Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Making a book from scratch, and why I love American Sign Language with Jennifer Charlee!


Hello friends! It’s Kat, from MeowMeowKapow. Today’s video is brought to you by the spirit
of friendship, so I’d like to start off with a little clip from my sweet, incredibly
talented, and courageously perseverent friend…. Jennifer. Links for her channel, as well as the materials
I used in this video will be down in the doobly-doo. You may have noticed that Jennifer used American
Sign Language to communicate to me in this video, and when we started talking about making
a collab video we were surprised to find that it’s something we both have interest in,
though neither one of us claims proficiency so please forgive us for any grammatical and
language errors. We’re trying our best! The concept of our collab became that we wanted
to ask one another in ASL to create a piece incorporating three words. Originally we were also going to actually
draw hands using sign language, but both of our plans evolved and we just sort of went
with the flow. When Jennifer gave me the words lizard, book,
and grow I IMMEDIATELY thought of a lizard wizard reading from a glowing book with plants
growing out of it…. But a couple of sketches later and an entire
night of furiously working while listening to swing music I completely ditched the idea,
lost my mind, and decided to actually make an entire book. I don’t know where the idea came from, or
why, but once it came to me I couldn’t let it go. Which is also kind of how I learned sign language. A few years ago, I was involved with a company
that had an accessibility department, which focuses on making the world around us more
accessible to people by making certain technologies possible like having your computer read your
screen to you if you’re blind, or having your phone’s brightness able to go darker
than normal to prevent triggering migraines, or stopping animations within programs to
help with those who suffer with vertigo. My goal was to help this department advance
their projects, and I would CONSTANTLY send them ideas, bug reports, and user feedback
despite not technically being a part of their team. Every year, I would apply to work with them
on a temporary basis, but I had to do so in competition with everyone else in the company
that was interested. I remember sitting at a table, trying to write
an essay about why I thought accessibility was important and what made me interested
in it. Making the world around us accessible to as
many people as possible just always seemed like the right thing to do, I’d never stopped
to consider why I care… because it never occurred to me NOT to care. So I was talking to some friends about the
topic, and everyone knew at that point that I was practicing ASL and had become a champion
for accessibility features, and someone asked me to maybe explain why I wanted to learn
ASL. I told them I didn’t really know, honestly…. I just woke up one day and decided to learn
Sign language because I wanted to, and once I’d gotten the idea in my head I simply
had to see it through. Learning about Deaf culture and gaining friends
in the community as a result was just a bonus, but it’s not like I set out to change the
world or anything… I just wanted to learn a language. From across the room, a friend said clearly,
and without hesitation “You did it because you’re a superhero. You see a wrong, and you try to make it right.” This has been probably the single most impactful
compliment I’ve ever gotten, and I’m doing my best to live up to it. I do my best to spread warmth and encouragement,
especially out here on this crazy internet, and I also do my best to consider the perspectives
of others no matter what the scenario, because I think we have a lot to learn from one another
if we take the time to listen. I also have always made sure that all of my
videos have closed captioning, because it’s important to me to support the Deaf community
in even just this small way. And I think that’s a lot of where the idea
for this book came from. I wanted it to be a book that could be understood
in any language, and one that encourages us to make things right. I don’t want to explain what it means, because
if it needs to I haven’t done my job well enough… But I’d love to hear what the story in this
book means to you. Especially if it reminds you of an experience
you’ve had. Don’t worry, there’s a full flip through
towards the end. For me, my adventure of understanding why
accessibility matters has evolved just because my exposure to and my understanding of the
needs of other people has evolved over time. Learning ASL completely rocked my world view,
and exposed me to an entire culture of people I didn’t even know existed-which is honestly
a shame. There’s no reason that hearing people should
live the majority of their lives without ever knowing a deaf person, because we live completely
separately from one another and hearing people have the luxury of not considering the deaf. Thinking about the needs of one group, got
me curious about others. For instance, I learned about the challenges
of living in a wheelchair-not just from a mobility standpoint but the day-to-day challenges
of living in a world where counters and sinks and shelves and cabinets are always set well
above what someone in a chair can comfortably and reliably reach. There are so many simple things in this life
I take for granted, like the ability to see and control how much toothpaste I’m putting
on my toothbrush, that I had never considered may require an accessibility solution to someone
blind, or someone with arthritis, or parkinson’s, or EDS. When you open your eyes and your mind up to
one experience, it often leads to finding a whole slew of related experiences that only
serve to better gift you with a broad and rich world view. For me, anyway. I tend to not know when to reign in my curiosity. About this book I’m making here, though… I feel like I may have done gone and lost
my danged mind with this project. I talk all the time about how I’m normally
the slowest artist, but I somehow managed to sketch thumbnails and rough drafts for
all ten pages, and the cover, within 24 hours. Then I decided to make it even more difficulty
by choosing to ink and watercolor the images, rather than just inking them and leaving it
black and white. But then of course, it only made sense to
not only hand-bind all of the books, but also hand-carve a stamp for the cover and stamp
them individually. Sure, I’d only ever carved one stamp before
this in my life, as well as having made a tutorial on how to make a stamp without carving
a few months ago… But what better time to suddenly start a new
hobby than when the pressure’s on and there’s a looming deadline, right? It still ended up taking me probably 100 or
so hours over the course of three weeks or something to make all of these books, but
still… That initial burst of inspiration was incredible! Normally when I come up with an ambitious
project like this, my steam runs out well before the halfway point… So I’m very proud to say that not only did
I finish this book, I finished eight of them-six of which are currently available for sale
in my etsy shop. And on top of that, this week I also opened
a Skillshare page and will be sharing some tutorials over there there, starting with
some of the techniques and tools I used to make this book. If you’re interested in learning how this
was made, you can follow me there to take the class once it’s live. That link will also be down in the doobly-doo. If you want to see what other projects I have
planned for the future, consider tossing me a like and subscribe-I’d love to have you
around. And if you want to see what Jennifer Charlee
came up with using the three words I gave her, check out her channel! I’m pretty excited about it myself, really! Until I see you next time, I wish you peace,
love, and pineapple puppies. Bye!

39 Replies to “Making a book from scratch, and why I love American Sign Language with Jennifer Charlee!”

  • Mandatory BUBBA yelling! XD
    Great video Kat, I enjoyed the talk a lot. And seeing your cute book come together, with such a touching story, was pretty awesome as well πŸ™‚

  • oh my goodness, because you and Jennifer wasn't awesome enough before!! You two are totally cool. Sign language is something I'd love to learn. Is it hard to learn? I am so impressed that you did all that in 24 hours! You ARE a super hero πŸ˜€

  • Hi Kat, when I was much younger, living in Ohio, my family and I often went on vacation by visiting relatives and friends who lived in Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. All states easy to get to from Ohio. My aunt and uncle who lived in New York had two daugthers and a son, my cousins. Their oldest daughter was deaf. She could make some vocalizations; but, never learned to talk.

    When she was old enough to work, my aunt got her a job at the hospital where she worked working in the laundry department. My cousin could communicate with us by note writing. She and her family had a system of sign language that worked for them. It was not ASL. Through my church, I did learn ASL; but, it was a limited program.

    ASL was not taught at my high school. When I moved to Florida, I did have an opportunity to learn some more ASL. But, over the years, I discovered that ASL is kind of like English in that shortcuts for common words are developed. A person who knows ASL in the PNW might not be able to catch everything that is being signed by a person in the SE. Even after I learned ASL, I still had a hard time communicating with my cousin, without using note-writing.

    I am not deaf; but, do have a hearing disorder. I have to make sure people who are talking to me are looking at me. When I went through my cosmetology training way back when, one of my instructors took me aside and asked me when I learned to read lips. I told her that I had not been aware that I was reading lips. But, even today, I find I understand better what a person says when I can see their lips forming words. If I can't see a person's lips move I tend to miss about 50% of the words he or she says.

  • This was awesome! ^^
    First things first, though. Hello, Bubba! <3 You look sleek and amazing, and I hope your day is full of sun naps and snuggles.
    Now, I can progress with a clear conscience to other topics. πŸ˜‰
    I loved seeing this book come together! My interpretation of the story was very sweet. In a similar vein, I always try to give people all of my attention, respect, and compassion, whenever I interact with them, especially if they're a cashier or customer service rep. I don't force them to chat if they seem like they'd rather focus on their job, but I've heard some great stories from the ones up for a chat, and seeing their eyes light up when we genuinely connect makes me so happy.
    I've also, interestingly enough, long been interested in ASL. My physical pain and resulting brain fog has made it a challenge to learn, but I'm hoping to take online classes in the relatively near future. Kudos to you and Jennifer for already having put in so much effort! ^^

  • Oh my word this book is freaking amazing. Pineapple puppies? What?? I think this book speaks VOLUMES as to who you are. You are the hero you didn't know you were! In my eyes I see this amazing individual, that even though life is hard, she keeps giving. Where is the well you draw from?? It's magical. πŸ™‚ Kat=Love So proud of this venture for you love. xo Keep it going! I'd love to help you in any way! you know that tho. πŸ˜›

  • Oh my gosh this is so lovely! What a wonderful collab with so much heart. πŸ’œ

    Also, congrats on starting to make classes on Skillshare! That's so awesome!

  • ASL is amazing <3 studied it for a couple years and even worked in a relay service for 2 1/2 yrs. This is an incredible idea πŸ˜€

  • Hello Kat! Great video and I am uploading my D.I.Y Watercolour palette video tomorrow and will share your you tube channel on instagram. Are you okay if I give you a shout out? be nice! Thanks again and your amazing Artist!

  • YOU. MADE. A. friggin book!!!???!!! That is so incredibly awesome! I also like the inclusion of the stamp carving! I am so honored to have been able to collaborate with you! <3

  • I just found through Jennifer. I have ADHD and so I can relate. I've been around deaf, blind, and Mildly Mentally Handicapped people. I have one watercolor painting video and planning to do more. I'm going through a divorce right now and trying get back to the things I like to do and painting being one of many hobbies I have.

  • Aww Kat this is just beautiful! You are such a lovely human being, I'm so glad I found you and your channel 😊 what an inspiration!

  • That's so cool, that both of you know sign language. I'm really impressed! I'm also impressed by the lovely book you've created! (Just out of curiosity, what are the shipping costs to Europe?)

  • Sign language is awesome. Naturally international save for some exceptions ^.^ I was learning czech sigh language myself, but had nowhere to practice it once I was done with the course… Like with all languages, the less they are used, the easier are to be forgotten… (blush) this is great idea though ^.^ the book came out awesome! ^.^

    P.S. Wheelchair is difficult indeed… But on the bright side… I'm taking my personal chair always with me πŸ˜€ but most of the time it's pita. Although nothing teaches one assertiveness better than having to ask for help or refuse it if it's not needed. That feeling that we can still do "something" on our own, even if it takes ages and lots of stamina is soooo worth it!

    So.. I dare to shout out to anyone who reads this… If next time wheelie or other handicapped person refuses your help… Don't be offended. It means much to us we can still do it ourselves! And who knows… Maybe the next one will be downright grateful for your help offer ^.^

    Thanks!

  • Why you make me cry, Kat? πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ This is a beautiful not to mention ambitious project!

  • Such a cool undertaking and challenge for yourselves. I had started learning the world of ASL as well last year, as it has been a goal of mine for years to know someday. I've fallen off course, but watching something like this sort of sparks me to keep it up somehow. The subject has come up many times since learning too. But oh gosh, seeing that you made a book universally understood is so wonderful. It makes me so happy to learn this about you. ^_^

  • So wonderful. I worked at a school for the deaf for 3 months in college and it was an ultra immersive ASL experience. I had no idea it was an interest of yours! We should chat closed captions.

    It’s a personal topic for me, I have low vision and dandy walker hydrocephalus. There are so many accessibility issues. You are right so many things people don’t even think about.

  • Passion fuels progress. Your book reminds me of a book for a special needs classroom like the one I volunteered at in college.
    Also, did you print the book on Bee Paper also?

  • You always have the most interesting collabs!
    Where I live now has a lot of programs for disabled people, and it seems like everyone is very conscious and accustomed to doing things that might make life a bit easier for people with disabilities. I was pretty surprised and happy to realize this when I moved here.
    (Btw I’ve been kind of obsessing over stamps recently so I was so excited to see you make one in this video!)

  • Girl, you cray! The amount of work you put into this is incredible! You must have been really inspired!

    It's very inspiring to me because I have so many plans for little stories and no courage to start! I'm just going to be like Kat and jump straight into it πŸ˜€

  • This is so inspiring. I've always wanted to learn ASL, but was never a lesson to get into the classes in school. But since you mentioned skill share, I wonder if they have some courses on it… Also, you make a seriously good point about closed captioning on videos. I need to go back through mone and add them.

  • haha your videos always make me smile! Your voice overs are just amazing, the idea for the sign language is so interesting.
    Love the end product, amazing as always!

  • Heads up to anyone who would volunteer for the wheelchair experience without finding out the hard way, not many people do, and really you have no idea till you try! Loved the book, the energy, and the process, and wish I had the capacity for output you have! Awesome.

  • This is such an original interpretation of the prompts you were given! You are both such amazing people and artists, an absolute joy to see you working together! ^_^

  • Kat! Im not sure where you live, or if your country's amazon site sells these for this good of a deal, but i found some AWESOME, plain empty tins on amazon for super cheap. You can get ones with the fold out lid like an altoids tin, (but without the printing and embossed label) or ones with lids that slide off of the top, and even little cute round ones! Just thought id let you know if you want to get a few for making palettes!

  • SO happy I discovered your channel! <3

    I took 3 years of ASL in college and completely fell in love with the language. I also went to a Deaf/Hearing combined preschool as well and it really set me to have an appreciation for Deaf culture.

    I commend you for having CC on all your videos! Do you have any advice for me? I'd love to do the same!

    It's so cool to see you and Jen collaborate and bring awareness to this beautiful language and culture. Can't wait to watch more videos! <3

  • Oh my gosh, I love the end story so much!! It's such a simple message but so pretty.
    Also I had wanted to learn ASL before but I never actually took the time to seriously look into it. But after watching this I just might have to give it another looksy.
    You have such a lovely art style, can't wait to check out some of your other vids! πŸ˜€

  • This is just amazing. Holy wow! Not sure I would be able to carry out such an ambitious effort, yet you took it on humbly and make it look so easy! Well done and so happy you shared! Thank you!!!! πŸ™‚

  • I know I'm late here, but PINEAPPLE CLUCKS UNITE! βœŒπŸ––πŸ™Œ
    Also, holy freaking cow this was amazing! πŸ’œπŸ’œ

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