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True-Work American Sign Language

A Book Proposal for

American Sign Language

eTextbook for Levels 1-4

Submitted by
R. Bryant, L. Gelineau, T. Shannon, and N. Marbury

? Ritchie Bryant
1108 Lavaca Street Suite 110-188
Austin, TX 78701-2110

Tel: 512-410-7291


A. Overview:

Hearing students, when being taught American Sign Language (ASL), learn best through multimedia, focusing on conversations related to their daily lives. This enables them quickly to converse with Deaf people in their communities. This handbook is the how-to guide so that these students can navigate both their multimedia learning and their conversations.

B. Unique Selling Proposition:

If students of American Sign Language purchase and use TRUE+WORK American Sign Language, then they will
• Learn the grammar, rules, and subtle inflections in order to converse with Deaf persons
• Develop cultural literacy
• Have their exercises reinforced through a variety of ways
• Become nuanced interpreters, detecting errors in video clips
• Continue on in language study and possibly be employed in an ASL-related position
• Have fun

Because the book and related website will
• Offer language snapshots
• Present the Deaf as a community with a common language
• Use fingerspelling, grammar practice, discussions, storytelling, and so forth
• Practice Peer Observation Analysis
• Employ Signopardy as a unit review and Self-Observation Analysis Review (SOAR) as a growth assessment
• Feature authors who are Deaf, ASL native users, and trained in teaching ASL in post-secondary settings, with masters or doctoral degrees

C. The Web Content and iPad iBook-type Student Book:

1. Web content status: Each level is one semester in length. ASL Levels 1-4 course content is complete, but some modifications need to be entered. The teacher online manual, more instructional activities, video with dialogues, and student learning objectives also need to be entered onto the website.
Videos and short clips are a major part of the online experience; we hope to replace these with professionally shot videos in diverse native ASL-user models approved by the authors. Currently, several illustrations and photographs on the site act as place holders for royalty-free photos or the publishers’ photos and illustrations.

2. iPad iBook-type student book: We envision an interactive textbook (such as an educational iBook on an iPad) so that students can not only access the web content but also record videos of their practice signing or conversations with Deaf dialogue partners. Because nearly all of the content is online, this interactive textbook does not need large numbers of illustrations within itself.

3. Anticipated content completion date: Manuscript materials and clips are ready for review and editorial involvement with the publisher’s editor and designer. The content will be completed in fewer than six months after receiving an acceptable offer from a publisher and laying out the project with an editor and designer.


A. Characteristics:

Most bachelor of art or science students in the 2,500 colleges and universities in the U.S. need to fulfill a foreign-language requirement.
“American Sign Language has become one of the most popular language classes, ranking fourth in the latest Modern Language Association survey—and nearly shoving German from third place. The number of students taking the language has risen by more than 50 percent in the past decade,” writes Katy Murphy, Oakland Tribune.

One reason we see from our 1200 students in the past three years is the need. More than 1.4 million people in the U.S. have hearing losses of sufficient severity to be considered Deaf. Another 21 million have hearing impairments. Sign and voice interpreting are essential for their participation in society.

For example, 75 percent of Deaf students now attend regular schools. Yet, there are fewer than half the interpreters needed to give Deaf persons full access. About 100 programs currently train sign language and voice interpretation; this requires additional study after the usual two-year college ASL courses.

For these reasons, ASL instruction is growing.

More and more colleges and universities are accepting ASL in fulfillment of foreign language requirements. The University of California system (all campuses) will soon accept ASL in fulfillment of foreign language entrance and graduation requirements. Harvard and Yale are among some of the schools which are investigating similar action. Recently, we have witnessed tremendous activity by state legislatures to support the teaching and acceptance of ASL as a foreign language. Many states now recognize ASL as a foreign language for the purpose of meeting high school graduation requirements. –Sherman Wilcox, University of New Mexico.

TRUE+WORK American Sign Language, Levels 1-4 functions as a textbook in that teachers adopt our program and require students to purchase course materials. We sometime call it a handbook because nearly all of the content is online; this book guides students through the multimedia materials and exercises.
A list of professional organizations and educational institutions for the Deaf can be found at, which is the website for the Austin Community College ASL and Interpreter Training Lab.

B. Motivations:

Because this product is an e-textbook or handbook, teachers as gatekeepers select training products based on several factors. First, they seek a comprehensive curriculum that coheres into a unity—textbook definitions and illustrations coordinate with website practices. This course of instruction can be tailored by teachers and tailored to their needs.

Second, this is the first curriculum that includes such extensive usage of the web, an accessible medium for students. This reduces the need for a thick, highly illustrated book while also engaging students in fun (web) rather than work (textbook).

Third, the teacher-friendly manual offers instructions in both languages. Rubrics, exams, quizzes—these and related materials are ready to be used at each teacher’s discretion.
Fourth, as the first online/e-textbook program, these materials are suitable for non-traditional contexts, such as online, hybrid, and flipped classrooms (in which the students study content away from a classroom and practice the content during classroom time).

The authors have all taught classes at Austin Community College and piloted the TWA curriculum at Austin Community College since fall 2011—about 80 classes and 1200 students—along with several instructors. The results were so encouraging that the program received several requests from interested parties to use the curriculum.

C. Affinity Groups:

• American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (
• Baby Signs (
• Colleges and universities with ASL programs
• Conference of Interpreter Trainers (
• Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf (
• Gallaudet University (
• Members of the American Association of the Deaf Blind (
• Members of the American Sign Language Teachers Association (
• Members of the National Alliance of Black Interpreters (
• Members of the National Association of the Deaf (
• Members of the National Black Deaf Advocates (
• Members of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (
• Teachers at Deaf Schools in the U.S. (
• The Conference of Educational Administrators of School and Programs for the Deaf (

Note: For a state-by-state listing of how ASL is treated as a foreign language, see

D. Competition:

The most developed direct competition—namely, online multimedia resources with one or more supporting books—is, launched by Michelle Jay. Few of the authors—according to their profiles—are native ASL users; most are Hearing. Few have more than a minimal ASL teaching background or educational degrees.

They also offer printed support materials; these can be resources available through our etextbook:• Michelle Jay, Don’t Just Sign … Communicate: A Student’s Pocket Guide to Deaf Community Terminology (Judea Media, 2011), pb., 40 pp., $7.95. 978-0984529452
• Michelle Jay, Don’t Just Sign … Communicate: A Student’s Guide to Mastering American Sign Language Grammar (Judea Media, 2011), pb., 158 pp., $19.95. 978-0984529445.
• Michelle Jay, Don’t Just Sign … Communicate: A Student’s Guide to American Sign Language and the Deaf Community (Judea Media, 2011), pb., 144 pp., $19.95. 978-0984529438.
The other competition incorporates some media as supplements to teaching the undergraduate course, such as:
• Tom L. Humphries, et al., Learning American Sign Language DVD to Accompany Learning American Sign Language—Levels 1 and 2, 2nd ed. (Pearson, 2004), DVD, $75. 978-0205453429.
The step beyond a two-year language course is becoming an interpreter for Deaf persons. Some of these provide multi-media components:
• Cynthia B. Roy, Innovative Practices for Teaching Sign Language Interpreters, which develops six dynamic teaching practices to assist interpreters achieve the highest level of skill, (Gallaudet University Press, 2000), hb, 200 pp., $45.95. 978-1563680882.
• Nanci A. Scheetz, Building ASL Interpreting and Translation Skills: Narratives for Practice (with DVD), which is a workbook with over 80 examples on the DVD to engage a variety of grammatical elements, (Pearson, 2008), pb, 360 pp., $71.46. 978-0205470259.
• Geoffrey S. Poor, Barron’s 500 Flash Cards of American Sign Language (Barron’s Educational Series, 2009), cards, 500 pp., $24.99. 978-0764162220.

The business model for TRUE+WORK ASL is a traditional for college or university courses in that instructors select the curriculum and students purchase the required materials. Apart from royalties, some of the proceeds from these purchases will fund the development and maintenance of the websites.

We have referenced iBooks on iPads as these textbooks are already for sale. Yet, all of our course content is online; this e-handbook guides students through the multimedia materials and exercises. Thus, this book incorporates all of the elements of its competition and expands on these.
Unlike other materials from more or less experienced practitioners, TRUE+WORK ASL is authored by persons with both experience (native Signing) and credentials for teaching (masters or doctorate degrees).


A. Background:

Ritchie R. Bryant is a dynamic, native American Sign Language (ASL) user and a culturally Deaf Texan. Currently working as a Professor in American Sign Language Studies and Interpreting Training program at Austin Community College, Ritchie has been presenting ASL/Deaf-related workshops for the past fifteen years. Trained as an ASL mentor and ASLPI/SLPI evaluator, he used to train Deaf people to become ASL mentors for signers in the Rochester community under the Community Interpreter Grant. Ritchie obtained a bachelor's degree in ASL Studies from Gallaudet University and a master's degree in Deaf education from McDaniel College. He is also a certified Deaf interpreter who has been interpreting in the Deaf community since 2000. His interests include developing African-American storytelling within the Deaf community, and video editing on his computer.

Lisa Gelineau, Deaf-ASL native user with Deaf parent, is an Associate Professor and has taught all levels of ASL at Austin Community College (ACC) since 1999. Before coming to ACC, she taught several ASL courses at different colleges in Canada. During her service at ACC, she received the Teacher Excellence Award. Ms. Gelineau is also an American Sign Language Proficiency Evaluator at ASL Diagnostic and Evaluation Services (ASL-DES) at Gallaudet University. Lisa holds a Master's degree in Deaf Studies/Deaf Education from Lamar University and a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from Texas State University. She has also completed all of her doctoral coursework in Deaf Studies at Lamar University. In addition to teaching at ACC, Ms. Gelineau has taught ASL courses at other colleges and universities, and presented workshops and training on various ASL-related topics.

Tracey Shannon comes from a Deaf family and is a native ASL user. Shannon acquired a bachelor's degree in English Writing from Gallaudet University in 1993 and Master’s Degree in Deaf Education/ ASL Specialist from Western Maryland College. Shannon taught at Texas School for the Deaf for approximately three years before starting her employment at Austin Community College. Shannon is the ASL and Interpreter Training Lab Director and an adjunct professor at ACC as well since 2007.

Nathie Marbury earned her Bachelor's degree from Gallaudet University and her two Master's degrees from California State University at Northridge (CSUN). Marbury has completed her doctoral coursework in applied linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She completed her doctorate in Deaf studies/Deaf education during the fall of 2007 at Lamar University. She conducted numerous workshops and seminars all over the United States and Canada. Marbury taught at schools for the Deaf, universities/colleges, and community colleges over the last 35 years. She made a variety videotapes for several companies over the last 25 years. Marbury taught primarily ASL classes at Austin Community College.

B. Previous Writing:

Nathie Marbury has collaborated on
• Sign Enhancers: ASL Grammatical Aspects (DVD;
• Deaf Culture Package, Bravo ASL! Activities (DVD)
• Bravo ASL! Assessment (DVD)
• The Tactile Mind: No Hand-Me-Downs (DVD)
She has also worked with Dawn Sign Press, Gallaudet University, Harris Communication, and Sign Enhancers.

C. Personal Marketing:

In the past four semesters (fall 2011 to spring 2013), we have trained about 1200 students (in 80 classes). With transfers in and out, this represents nearly 500 possible handbook sales.

We plan to announce at national and regional events our curriculum and handbook by giving papers, hosting panel discussions, and handing out information.
Richie R. Bryant, Lisa Gelineau, and Nathie Marbury will continue presenting ALS/Deaf-related workshops around the country.


Unit 1: Welcome to the Deaf World
Getting Started, American Sign Language (ASL) 101, Basic ASL, Classroom Actions, Basic Math and Numbers, and Review.

Unit 2: Academic
Types of Schools, School Environment, Things You Do in the Classroom, School Personnel and Colors, School Subjects/Courses Majors, Review.

Unit 3: Family and Relationship
Describing Basic Appearances; Family, Friends, and Pets; Employment Status; Life Milestones; and Review

Unit 4: Residence and the Community
Transportation, Housing/Dwellings, Places around Town, Cities and States/Provinces, and Review.

Unit 5: Schedule
Calendar and Time Expressions, Events, Errands, Reasons/Excuses, Frequency, Daily Activities, and Review.

Unit 6: Good Times
Insight and Skill about Activities, Hobbies and Interests. Sports and Recreation, Vacation, Snacks, and Review.

Unit 7: All about Food
Fruits and Vegetables; Meats, Poultry and Seafood; More Food and Sweets; Restaurants; Recipes; and Review.

Unit 8: People among Us
People, Physical Descriptions, Clothing, and Review.

Unit 9: My Home
The Floor Plan, the Exterior, the Interior, Housework, and Review.

Unit 10: Finance and Workplace
Workplace, Career, Job Skills and Activities at Work, Pay Day, Shopping, Major Purchases, and Review.

Unit 11: Wellness and Fitness
Health-Related Settings, Health-Related Careers, Wellness and Nutrition, Common Illness and Treatments, Health-Related Emergencies, and Review.

Unit 12: Destination
Seasons and Weather Conditions, Natural Disasters, Maps and Directions, A Road Trip, World Map, Traveling around the World, and Review.
Unit 13: History and Civics
History 101, Government 101, Politics 101, Current Events, and Review.

Unit 14: Essential Components
Adverbs, Temporal Aspect, Adjectives, Subject-Object Agreement, Storytelling Techniques, and Review.

Unit 15: Household
Introduction to Basic Descriptions, Kitchen Supplies, Cleaning Supplies, Decorating, Furniture, and Review.

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