Dear Dr. Vicars,
I am hoping you can help me with a few questions I have below. I
sincerely appreciate any time you are willing to spare. I have
started your online video lessons and love them!
My son was born with Goldenhar's Syndrome. Part of that includes a
lack of ear canals. He has a functioning inner ear, so with a BAHA
hearing aid, he should be able to hear pretty well. My partner and I
have decided that he should have ASL as an additional language.
While he will be a hearing child for the most part, without his
hearing aid he is hard of hearing. Maybe he will feel connected to
the Deaf community and the language will only help him in that. We
are both very good at languages and, frankly, I have loved ASL for
years and wanted to learn.
I am Greek-American. I speak to my son in Greek and refer to myself
as "babas." We refer to his other dad as "dad,'' in English. What
about for ASL? Well, I came up with borrowing the GSL sign for babas
(which is the same as the French sign for papa, or dad). My question
is: Does it mean anything in ASL that will cause confusion? Here is
the sign: http://www.sematos.eu/lsf-p-papa-7268-en.html
The French sign for "papa" (according to the link you sent me)
starts as an "L" hand near the corner of the mouth (the thumb tip is
near the very corner of the mouth, the index fingertip is pointing
directly upward, the palm orientation is forward). The index and
thumb then come together so that the both the tip of the index
finger and the tip of the thumb are now at the corner of the mouth).
There is no "one-handed" sign that looks specifically like that in
ASL. There are however some signs that are close to that:
BIRD: A wide-G hand is pointed forward from in front of or near the
mouth and closes twice (as if representing the beak of a bird).
CAT: An open-F (or open-8, or wide G)
is held near the corner of the mouth and is moved out to the side
and closes into a regular F (or 8 or closed-G) as if representing
the whiskers of a cat.
Also there is a version of the sign for PICNIC in ASL that looks
very much like the French sign for PAPA except that version of the
American Sign for PICNIC tends to use two hands (and seems to
possibly trace its roots back to a version of the sign for CORN).
How do gay parents sign "parents" in ASL, as it is comprised of
"dad'' and ''mom''?
I'll have to ask around for any "recent" developments on this topic
(and if I find out more I'll let you know) but so far I've just seen
gay Deaf parents sign "MOM-DAD" to mean "parents." Quite a few
people initialize the sign PARENTS by using a "P" handshape (or a
"K" handshape actually since it is the tip of the middle finger that
contacts the side of the chin and then the forehead. Also, at high
speeds we often don't make contact -- we just come "close" to making
Many ASL teachers actively
discourage their students from using the initialized version of
PARENTS but I would suppose that "gay parents" may indeed be more
inclined to use the P/K handshape since it adds a bit of distance
from the "MOM" and/or the "DAD" signs and instead refers only to the
concept of "parents." Again, I'll have to ask around -- but for sure
I haven't seen any "widely established" alternate sign that
specifically refers to "gay parents" (not yet anyway).
Perhaps of interest to you though is the situation of a
hermaphrodite Deaf individual I knew who decided with his/her
partner that he/she would like to be referred to by their children
as Da-Mom and showed me the sign for "DAMOM" as being the thumb-tip
of a "5-hand" tapped twice on the cheekbone (half way between the
forehead and the chin) thus representing a blending of both signs
DAD and MOM. The partner was female and thus referred to as
"MOM" and the hermaphrodite was referred to as DAMOM.
It would be interesting to see if any Deaf (or
workshop presenters) have tried or have been signing "MALE-DADS" by
tapping the tip of a 5-hand on one side of the forehead and then the
other or signing "FEMALE-MOMS" by tapping the tip of a 5-hand on one
side of the chin and then the other. (Note: I have NOT seen
this yet. I'm just betting that someday I will see it. Then even if
I do see it that doesn't mean it will spread and become accepted by
the general Deaf Community.)
What is the sign for BAHA (or Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids)? I have
seen the sign for hearing aid, but they all seem to look like the
standard amplifier, in-ear hearing aids, not the BAHA, which goes
behind the ear on the skull. His will be attached with a softband
for several years.
Well, the "Behind the Ear Hearing Aid" sign consists of a loose X
tapping twice above and a bit behind the ear as if representing
the shape of a behind-the-ear hearing aid. I've seen quite a few people sign
HEARING-AID by tapping the fingertips of an H-hand twice on or near
the ear canal (by which they simply meant "hearing aid" in general,
but for which I would think of it as meaning "in the ear" hearing
aid. If someone used a "G" hand at the ear canal (double insert
movement) I'd consider that to mean "in the canal" aid specifically.
Now, for BAHA (Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids) I would simply spell
B-A-H-A or I'd use the fingertips of an upside-down
backward-pointing H-hand to tap the mastoid bone twice. I've
never seen anyone do that mind you. Plus it might be misconstrued as
a screwed-up version of the sign for "cochlear implant."
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