Using Dropbox in Class

I have an iPad and I’ve been using it for my ASL classes. I have found the free application Dropbox has been  incredible for keeping and organizing class documents.

If your classes are like mine, you’re probably using BlackBoard to manage your classes’ documents. There is a BlackBoard App for iPad  that I use and when I click on any file link, I have the option to send it to my Dropbox account.

This works great because I created an “ASL” folder then inside that a folder for each class. All the documents (powerpoint presentations, homework assignments, syllabus) are in the folder inside Dropbox.

The biggest advantage is that I can access these folders from my desktop or my iPad quite easily.  But here’s a tip…if you edit or create a document, take advantage of the BOLD font option for easier viewing on the iPad.

This app has been perfect for me keeping up in class, reviewing the powerpoints after class, and keeping any .pdf files that are relevant all in one folder available on both my iPad and desktop.

When I need to look up signs, I’ve relied on “ASL Dictionary for iPad” because it downloads all of the signs so you can access them offline. It’s bee a real help!

So aside from Dropbox, Blackboard, and ASL Dictionary are there any other iPad apps you can’t do without for ASL education?

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Signing with an Accent

It’s been my observation that nearly everyone who speaks English as a second language have a tell-tale accent. It’s not a big deal to me. But it seems no matter how fluent they are in English, if it’s their second language, they either pronounce words differently and/or do not follow exact proper English.

However, they almost always communicate just fine! I’m talking about exact proper grammar and pronunciation.

So it makes me wonder, if ASL is my second language, will I always seem to “give myself away” as a person who uses ASL as a second language? And if so, I wonder at what level. And what does it look like to have an “English accent” in ASL?

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MTVu at Gallaudet – Quiet Campus

In the Fall of 2010, MTV sent a team to Gallaudet University to film a short series called “Quiet Campus”.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s the short 3-part series (captioned) going into GU’s Homecoming Football Game…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Where is a Deaf Reality Show?

I’m no stranger to watching Reality TV shows. My favorites have always been shows like “Survivor” and “Celebrity Apprentice” (unless you count shows like “Dirty Jobs”, “Mythbusters”, and “Storm Chasers”). Like many of you, I also really enjoy the scripted show “Switched At Birth” – mostly for the ASL.

I’ve enjoyed watching Deaf Reality TV show contestants such Marlee Matlin (“Celebrity Apprentice”, “Dancing With The Stars”), Lou Ferrigno (“Celebrity Apprentice”), and Christy Smith (“Survivor”), but I can’t think of many more Deaf individuals on popular TV shows, especially Reality TV shows.

So what ever happened to “My Deaf Family“? Here’s the pilot episode created, produced, and financed by Marlee Matlin herself in 2010 and uploaded to YouTube after an unfavorable reaction from network TV stations.

Personally I find it inexcusable that a show such as this is not on the air. There is plenty of crappy ‘reality tv’ shows already on the air. “Switched At Birth” is paving a path for ASL-related quality shows, and the excuse of subtitles for the American public falls flat on me as one of my favorite reality shows is “Swamp People” which uses captions constantly because of the Creole accents.

A must-read interview about this show is from the LA Times Blog interviewing Ms. Matlin regarding the show idea. Also worth reading is this article from NPR – A Baffling Question: Why Isn’t Marlee Matlin’s ‘My Deaf Family’ On Television?

My position is that given the popularity of Deaf individuals on Reality TV and the success of “Switched At Birth”, it’s time for TV Execs to re-examine the role of a Deaf-related reality show produced by the most respected American Deaf actress ever known.

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#captionTHIS today! I’m in.

If you do not understand American Sign Language, please click on the ‘CC’ button on this YouTube video to understand.

One thing that I’ve been frustrated with is not just the lack of captioned videos out there, but the hurdles faced to add closed captions to uploaded YouTube Videos. For instance, YouTube’s Help Page for adding and editing captions can be found here. In it they say:

To add captions or subtitles to one of your videos, you’ll need to have transcript or caption files with the captions/subtitles in them. Please see this entry for detail.

If you visit their page to help create transcript files, you’ll soon realize that it’s not an exact science. In fact, the file that works best that you should create is what is called a Caption File. YouTube suggests you check out this help resource. Maybe one or two of these resources will prove to be more efficient in providing captions than the methods I’ve used in the past. No matter, the point here is that it’s kind of a pain to provide captions (though I’d argue the pain is worth the expanded potential audience).

But for heaven’s sake, please do not trust YouTube’s attempt to provide captions based on it’s audio recognition algorithm. If you need an example, watch any of Rhett & Link’s ‘Caption Fail’ video experiments! In these videos, they create a video and allow YouTube to create captions on the fly. They are always way off. So this dueo uploads a sketch, takes the YouTube ‘auto-captioned’ text as a script for Take 2, then do it all again. Here, I’ll show you…(and trust me, for this video example, turn your CC off)

Bottom Line: Auto-translation via audio input is very imperfect. Translation via text is fairly advanced, but to add a viable English-based caption file is currently cumbersome. I long for a day when uploading an ASL-based video is easily translated into written English easily.

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Online Video Closed Captions

It is perhaps more important than you realize…

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Cute Kids Signing

Watching these just seem so sweet to me.

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Service Animals

Service Dogs

The other day I ran across some interesting and ‘new-to-me’ information about Service Animals. I’ve learned some facts but have also found to confuse myself just a bit. That really shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who knows me. Anyway, here’s what I’m learning…

First of all, what exactly is and is not a “Service Animal”? A summary of the Federal Law states:

The rule defines “service animal” as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The rule states that other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals. Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals. The final rule also clarifies that individuals with mental disabilities who use service animals that are trained to perform a specific task are protected by the ADA. The rule permits the use of trained miniature horses as alternatives to dogs, subject to certain limitations. To allow flexibility in situations where using a horse would not be appropriate, the final rule does not include miniature horses in the definition of “service animal.”

Service Miniature Horse

In 2010 the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice revised the ADA service animals requirements:

  • Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.
  • A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  • Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.

Where it gets a bit confusing, however, is when you look at certain state laws. For example, the State of Maryland law says that a “‘Service animal’ means a guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability”.

In fact, Maryland is isn’t the only state that says a service animal doesn’t have to be a dog. About half of the country’s states apparently adhere to this as well. Doesn’t that seem a bit confusing? The US Government says a service animal is a dog only, while local Governments may say otherwise.

Regardless, if you work at an establishment and a person comes in with what might be a service animal, you’re only allowed to ask two questions (according to the DOJ revision):

1 – Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
2 – What work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

Things you are not allowed to ask concern the person’s disability, documentation for the person’s disability, nor documentation/demonstration of the training or abilities of the dog.

Additionally, even if you have a ‘no pets’ policy, you have to realize that a service dog is not considered a pet. Bottom line is if someone comes in your business and they have what they claim is a service dog for a disability, you have to let them inside.

I’m curious if anyone can shed (pardon the pun) some experience or knowledge into this for me. Thanks!


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ASL 202 – Comparisons

I’ve uploaded my final project for my ASL 4 class. It’s using different comparisons. I chose to use actual global Internet stats.

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My Valentine – Paul McCartney Video

This is interesting. The legendary music artist Paul McCartney released the following video of his song “My Valentine”. The video stars Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp…both signing the lyrics.

Posted in art, video | 3 Comments