ASL University ►

Interview: William Vicars, Ed.D.  (Dr. Bill)

Interview questions by Melissa Trindade

1. How does your field or occupation benefit society?
Answer:  My specific field is "American Sign Language Instruction." See: .
The larger field within which I work is "Deaf Studies."  There exists a need for skilled signers to become interpreters, teachers, counselors, audiologists, etc.  These individuals need background knowledge and training in advanced sign language and Deaf culture in order to properly do their jobs in a socio-culturally appropriate way.  Also, persons desiring to obtain interpreter certification from certain respected certifying organizations must first earn a Bachelors degree in order to take the certification exam and receive continuing education in the field in order to remain certified. Thus my work in this field helps sign language interpreters meet their certification requirements while improving their skills and knowledge.

2. With regard to your job, what does your daily life consist of?  (Daily duties, daily concerns, etc.)
For my "day" job (Full-time Faculty at CSU Sacramento) I prepare lessons, teach classes, grade assignments, advise students, attend way too many committee meetings, and answer way too much email.  Often that email consists of requests for interviews such as this one -- or requests for letters of recommendation.


Also see:

The original job description consisted of:
Duties will consist of teaching in a large program of Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced ASL classes that lead to a certificate. Assignment will include collaborating in the development of an ASL laboratory and the opportunity to develop other classes related to the culture of Deafness for eventual development of a Bachelor's degree in ASL/Deaf Studies, Interpreting, or other related fields.  May be asked to teach evenings and/or weekends.  Maintaining regular and close contact with the Deaf community and community colleges in the college service area as related to the curriculum is required. Responsibilities also include student advising, university service, ongoing scholarly activity, and community involvement.

3. For your occupation, what education is required?
Answer:  If you want to teach full-time, tenure track at a four-year university you would do well to have a doctorate degree in a related field. Sure, you can find "some" positions at four-year universities that require only a masters degree -- but a doctorate will be preferred.  At two-year community colleges the preference is for a masters degree or higher but I've seen a few colleges that listed a minimum of a bachelors in order to apply.

4. With regard to education required, is there a lot of writing involved?    (Papers, assignments, etc.)
Answer:  As far as sign language-related education the amount of required writing is certainly less than that for many other fields. As far as "Deaf Studies" the amount of required writing is fairly high.

5. With regard to writing in your field, what types of writing do you do?    (Emails, lectures, etc.)
Answer:  I do quite a bit of writing since I post so much to the web. Some people in this field do very little writing (for example, certain part-time instructors who are simply "teaching from the book").  Certainly I write numerous emails. I fill out various forms. I develop quite a bit of curriculum so that brings my fingers to the keyboard rather often.

6. Do you have any special guideline that you follow for the writing that you need to do in your field? If yes, please explain guideline(s).
Answer:  No.  However we do tend to have one quirk regarding our writing that may be of interest. We tend to capitalize the word "Deaf."

7. Do you have any struggles with your writing? Is there anything specific aspect that troubles you when you have to write for your field?
Answer:  Me personally? No. An interesting challenge involved with "writing" in the Deaf field revolves around the fact that many professionals in Deaf Studies are coming to the field with English as a second language and thus when reading the writings of some of my colleagues I sometimes need to apply my understanding of the grammar of American Sign Language in order to make sense of the intent regarding what has been written.

8. Have you been an author of a textbook or some other work that is used in education with regard to your field? If yes, please explain.
Answer:  I've created a massive website full of articles and writing (as well as numerous pictures and videos).

9. What types of forms do you have to fill out with regard to your profession?​
Answer:  Course proposal and/or change forms, graduation application forms (with the students), grade change forms, course substitution and waiver forms, declaration of major or minor forms, etc.

10. How do you go about filling out these forms?
Answer:  I tend to make a template and then change only the very minimum amount of data. Or I email the form to the student and have them fill out as much as they can prior to it hitting my desk.

11. If you need to do research for lectures or presentations, where do you acquire your research from? (Online, books, etc.)
Answer:  See:

12. Can you please walk me through your process of writing for the following:

Answer:  I could, but no -- I won't.  Seriously, it would take way too long for me to give you a thorough answer to that question.  I will however mention a few things:
- I keep an archive of my emails. As of today it has 12,873 emails in it. I tend to use descriptive subjects.  Then when someone asks me something I've "written" about before I tend to do a search, find the previously written information, copy it, and then paste it into the new email.  

13. Where do you do most of your writing, home or work?
Answer:  I work from home as much or more than I work at my "day job" office.

14. Why do you do most of your writing in that particular setting mentioned above?
Answer:  Alright, let's get real: I write where ever I happen to be. I put my documents in the cloud (Dropbox) and then whenever I feel the urge I reach over to whatever computer is within arms reach and I start typing.  It is rare that I don't have a keyboard within reach.  I have six personal computers. Two desktop computers and a laptop at my CSU Sacramento office, a desktop computer in my bedroom, a desktop computer in my home office, and a laptop for traveling.  No, I don't share those with my wife or kids. They have their own computer(s).  I also have three Bluetooth keyboards of various sizes so that if needed I can type (quickly!) on my phone, iPad, or (Android) Tablet. 

15. For the majority of your writing, who is your intended audience?
Answer:  ASL Students, interpreters, teachers, and parents of Deaf children.

16. Do you use different language-formal or informal- based on your audience choice, or do you use the same language no matter the audience choice?
Answer:  Yes, I match my language to my audience. 

17. Do you enjoy the writing you have to do? Please specify which types of writing you like to do. If you do not like to write certain things, please explain why.
Answer:  I like writing things that I know will eventually receive massive exposure via my website. I like writing things that will benefit the lives of my students. I liked writing this interview until about half-way though since I enjoy being helpful but to be honest this is getting boring, my arse is starting to get stiff, (how's that for for informal language choices?), and I'm getting hungry.
18. Do you like to collaborate in your writing or do you like to do it alone? Please explain why.
Answer:  Alone.  It is faster and there is a heck of a lot less "back and forth."  When I "do" collaborate I prefer using a check-in/out tool such as "Github" or online documents that can be collaborated on together in real time.

19. How much writing is realistically required for your field of work?
Answer:  A couple hours per week.  When I was "program coordinator" it was much more (six to eight hours per week).   I personally choose to write more, but that isn't "required."

20. Do you have any tips on how to write well in your field?
Answer:  Read good books.  Turn on Microsoft Word's "grammar checker" and pay attention to it.

21. Who or what influences you in your writing?
Answer:  Seth Godin.

22. Do you believe that your writing has helped you to advance in your field?
Answer:  Absolutely.   

23. What is your degree status-- Ph.D, Masters, etc.
Answer: Some of my degrees and certifications (past and/or present) include: An Ed.D. (Education Doctorate) in Deaf Studies/Deaf Education from Lamar University (accredited), a Masters in Deaf Education (accredited), MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer), A+ (COMPTia Computer Technician), N+ (Network Technician), ASLTA certification (American Sign Language Teachers Association), and "EdNet" (Distance Education Certificate). Most of which have probably expired -- except the college degrees -- last I checked they don't have an expiration date. At one point I studied for and passed the Utah Real Estate License exam, but as it turns out I didn't want to spend my life trying to lipread clients from the side while driving them around to look at houses (plus my hearing aid is almost worthless in a car due to road noise.) Oh well -- at least it spurred me on to go back to school and get my doctorate.
Additional info about me:



Also see:


You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University
ASL resources by    Dr. William Vicars

Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy something from the ASLU "Bookstore."

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >

Bandwidth slow?  Check out "" (a free mirror of less traffic, fast access)   VISIT >


back.gif (1674 bytes)