Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How to be Inclusive

  • Make an effort to include others even if you are not sure how.
  • Never exclude a person simply because they look, act or speak differently.
  • Show with your actions that you want that person to part of your activity (ie., classroom, sporting event, trip to the movies, lunch table). Invite and encourage them to join you. In other words "walk the walk, not just talk the talk.'
  • Take the time to get to know someone even when it takes you out of your comfort zone.
  • Don't ignore someone because they don't seen to fit in. Ignoring is a close kin to bullying.
  • Make the effort to figure out how to make that person feel more accepted. Do they need a quieter place, or maybe a personal escort into an unfamiliar situation?
  • Be an example-setter by always treating others with dignity and respect.
  • Be a helper, volunteer or community participant at activities that include individuals of various abilities.
  • Learn sign language so that you can communicate with all types of people.
by Valerie Carter

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

8 Easy Ways to Learn Sign Language

It is a wonderful idea to learn sign language, but how…
Here are some easy ways to get started:
1) Watch YouTube videos. There are many many options. A good one for learning 100 basic signs is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ianCxd71xIo. Also, “Laura Berg Life” has quite a few, here is an example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8IP4CQ9PsU
2) The Internet. You can look up virtually anything on this online ASL dictionary site: https://www.signasl.org/ and ASL Pro is another avenue: http://www.aslpro.com/
3) Get a tutor. A number of years ago my daughter and I were offered free private tutoring from a Jehovah Witness, (this is part of their calling). She was a lovely woman, professional and non intrusive. I feel it is important to mention we are not Jehovah Witnesses ourselves nor am I promoting their message. After a search on the JV sign language site, I was unable to locate a tutor link, not sure. You may need to hire a tutor (NOT Free) elsewhere, as there are agencies offering this service from $10-$30 per hour such as: https://www.wyzant.com/ and https://www.heytutor.com/. You can also try a local tutoring agency in your area.
4) Download an app. Here are some free suggestions - GraceSigns: https://www.gracesigns.org/our-apps. Marlee Signs, ASL Coach and Sign Language for Beginners. Watch out for In-App-Purchases that some Apps sneak in.
5) Take a course. ASL classes are sometimes offered through your local library, community center or college (possibly free, possibly not) or try an online course such as: http://www.signlanguage101.com/. Just be careful of hidden costs.
6) Buy a book or borrow one from the library. This was how we started. Books are a terrific reference and you can view the pictures over and over and practice at will. Although books are one dimensional, here are a few that I would recommend: “Signing Made Easy (A Complete Program for Learning Sign Language. Includes Sentence Drills and Exercises…”) by Rod Butterworth and Mickey Flodin; “Learn American Sign Language” by James W. Guido and/or “American Sign Language For Dummies” by Adan R. Penilla II and Angela Lee Taylor.
7) Use Flashcards. Buy a collection such as: “Barron’s Flashcards of American Sign Language” by Geoffrey S. Poor, or be creative and make your own.
8) Watch DVDs. You can purchase them or some libraries have them available to borrow from their collection. An excellent choice for children is the “Signing Time” series. They have multiple DVDs available.
However you learn, enjoy the process, you will be well rewarded in the joy of knowing another language and being able to communicate through the beauty of sign language.

by Valerie R. Carter

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I have a Dream, too.

I never get tired of hearing Martin Luther King's riveting "I have A Dream” speech from 1963. King was one of the brilliant forefathers of the Civil Rights Movement and he spoke tirelessly about the importance of valuing all human beings. One of my favorite lines included, "make justice a reality for all of God's children." He went on to say, "and so, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream." 

His message inspired me years ago when I lived in the Atlanta area and witnessed inequality in the schools, community and my own workplace. His message inspired me again when I visited The King Center and saw a photographic exhibit on leaders of social change including pillars such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. And King continues to inspire me today. As the parent of a child with a disability who is often the victim of discrimination, it is apparent that we still have a road to travel on human rights. 

Martin Luther King placed the important building blocks of civil rights into the foundation of our nation's history. His vision and mandate for equality led the way for two other leaders for human rights to emerge: Judy Heumann and Wade Blank, advocates for the rights of the disabled who were both instrumental in the eventual passing of the 1990 civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that finally gave the disabled the right to be treated equally. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. Thus, everyone must be treated equally under the law, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, or other characteristics, without privilege, discrimination or bias." 

And so, to commemorate Martin Luther King and his message of equality, GraceSigns is now going to be offering all of its applications for free going forward. We stand for inclusion, diversity, desegregation and respect for all people. In offering our educational (sign language & reading) content for free, that message can now be heard by more people.

by Valerie Carter

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sign Language and Social Media

Social Media is a really great thing for Sign Language. We can see live action signing videos, we can share information about services, programs, apps for people with disabilities. We can create greater acceptance of those that are different by highlighting and embracing those differences. We can change attitudes by showcasing the immense value of ALL individuals. We can see things that make us smile, laugh and think. We can connect with strangers and friends. We can learn to communicate in a whole new way, a visual way...Sign Language. Social Media opens us up to new ideas, new people, new opportunities to new ways to connect with others. The beauty of Sign Language can not be expressed, viewed and appreciated from a book but it can be on Social Media We are physical creatures and Sign Language allows us to express ourselves with our whole self. What do you think? How has Social Media effected your communication skills? Read more here: https://upjourney.com/how-social-media-affects-communication-skills

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My List of 10 Organizations to be Grateful for...

Thanksgiving has come and gone but the season for giving thanks is still here. Many of us have a lot to be thankful for, while others could use help. For instance: the fire victims, individuals with health problems, homeless folks, and people without jobs, young and old with physical and/or mental challenges, children who are hungry, scientists working on environmental concerns and cures for diseases, animal welfare groups and organizations focused on worldwide well-being and literacy. I love this time of year because it is a time to be grateful, a time to reflect and a time to look forward. Wondering how can I make the world better is one of my daily prayers. It is something we might all want to think about- what can each one of us do to make this planet a kinder, cleaner, healthier, more peaceful and accepting place?
I know some amazing people who have made a real difference by founding/working and/or supporting small but exceptional nonprofit organizations and one ministry. If you are interested, take a look.
An organization with a focus on showcasing the beauty of all people through the visual arts.
A charity dedicated to the rescue of dogs and cats from high-kill shelters in Georgia.
Created to provide an inclusive supportive environment for individuals with developmental and learning challenges by giving them the opportunity to participate in sports & recreational activities.
A ministry focused on providing for the basic and spiritual needs of the homeless population in Santa Rosa, CA.
A legal non-profit protecting the rights of foster children in California.
Creating significant social change by connecting nonprofits with volunteers.
The North Valley Community Relief Fund was created to help the fire victims in Northern California immediately and in the recovery period.
A loving environment providing therapeutic riding to individuals with disabilities by living a “life without barriers".
Dedicated to significantly improving the lives of individuals with Down syndrome.
Creating reading & sign language software for all learners with a focus on Inclusion.
There are so many worthwhile charities out there, make your own list, volunteer, give, just do what you can. Tis the season!

by Valerie Carter

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Day for Celebrating our Differences!

There is only one day a year when we can be anyone or anything we want. Halloween! It is a day, not to be scared but to be enlightened. It is a day to become someone new, to dress in something unusual, to change into a rainbow, a unicorn, a superhero or an angel. The possibilities are as limitless as we are. We are all full of options and possibilities, with so many layers to us. Each one of us is uniquely different. On Halloween, we joyfully embrace our differences! Don’t you wish we could celebrate our diversity for the rest of the year as well? There is so much intolerance for each other, we don’t seem to accept our different ethnicities, our different colors, our different religions, our elderly, our disabled, our neighbors or our enemies. But imagine if we could. Wouldn’t it be spectacular if we could develop a kaleidoscope perspective… and see and accept the multi-faceted, always evolving incredible individuals that we all are!

By Valerie Carter