Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language


hey y’all welcome to Heritage Ways today. You know that part of our passion is introducing you to heritage keepers,
folks who are using their heritage to inspire and share and live life with
others and so today I’m so excited to introduce to you a friend of mine. I was
thinking we’ve been friends for you know how long? Trevor is 25 years old! one
year old when I had a 1 year old so we’ve known each other for this sounds
even over a quarter of a century ok so let’s talk about that.. and so we known each other
and we’ve been through different life experiences together and I was thinking
this morning Poppy and her husband Chris have really taught us a lot. I’ve already started an update on our home page about
Chris and Poppy and so you’ll see that if you want to look at our website which
is That blog post is going to come out on the same day as
this video comes out here on YouTube and the title that’s called foreign
languages so you can look for that Chris and poppy have such a heart for all
kinds of people and I was thinking this morning they look into the souls of
people and just love them no matter what and I think that’s what you have done to us
and I don’t want to cry and thank you I love you so much so today I’m so excited! the kids and I got up earlier than normal because you know we homeschool so we had
to get out of our pajamas earlier than normal. It was a joy to do so to come
up here and be with you so I would like to introduce my friend Poppy Steele.
We’re gonna talk about her heritage and how she is using that to just share life
with others and build community and so yeah can you just go
ahead and tell us let’s jump right in and tell us what what are we talking
about. Signing, ASL
yes, right okay so can you tell us a little bit about your heritage
as it relates to ASL. absolutely yes um I grew up in a church that had a deaf
congregation we had a deaf preacher and a deaf song leader and we had about 60
deaf members so that was my church family that was every Sunday morning
Sunday night Wednesday night potluck wedding funeral and the Deaf were my
family and my parents would interpret for the hearing people who came to service
so I grew up thinking that all deaf people grew up like that mm-hmm
and then after college Chris and I moved to a small town and I met some Deaf and
found out that wasn’t true, that it was rare what I had grown up in and the deaf
don’t usually grow up like that especially in Tennessee the deaf are
very isolated they don’t have resources they don’t have access to interpreters
or accommodations and so then I moved to another town and I met some deaf
children and I found out about the high percentage of abuse. at least 50 percent
of deaf children are sexually abused and without an interpreter then the
authorities don’t know and it goes undetected for sometimes decades. so I
knew it could be better it could be different because I had grown up in a
much better deaf community and so I left gainful employment and we started
a non-profit to do just that, to build community around our deaf children so
that they had a community they could grow up just to be children just the
normal everyday life things but then if they were one of those 50% then they
would have access to accommodations to at least have the same level of help
that are hearing children have…so you how old were you when you started to
learn ASL. I was 6 when mom and dad started in the deaf church. did they
start learning at that time or had they already known how to sign? no they
started some language classes because we had so many deaf at our church they had
sign language classes year-round so mom and dad went to those classes and then
during that time I had a brother who was killed in a motorcycle accident and at
the funeral the Deaf came out in droves to support my parents and it touched my
dad so much that he never left that was that was it for him they were family and that’s how the Deaf are like family. it’s a very tight
community so once they accept you you’re in, you’re part of them
so so that that is the family that we have now we make connections with
the deaf in the community and do what we can to to build a supportive system
around our deaf children especially deaf adults are we’re all part of that and we
learned that just a little bit of Education goes a long way. so you’re
using your heritage that started with your parents as a result of being in the
church with the deaf friends and you learned at six years old. yes yes and
that’s great you know our littles who are sitting here in the background
they’re wanting to learn and they’re fascinated by so maybe we could have
another video and we can link it above where you maybe do some
teaching with them? absolutely! yeah so we’ll do that and link that
video above. how has that heritage, how is that evolved? what have you done with
that in regard to the community. well what we learned
from those years was that the Deaf you know when when they are fed those
resources they can be productive members of society and and have you know
for the most part functional families gainfully employed and they are as
anyone in the community would be so we try to create with our nonprofit Sign
Club Co. we try to create a system where we can build community around our
Deafjust like what I had growing up with where a deaf person can go into the
local restaurant and order a hamburger and french fries in their own language
and and sit down and eat and go shopping and just you know be a normal person. Live a life we hearing folks take for granted so you’re using
your heritage to build community and make it a better community. yes for
everyone yes when we can all communicate you know our minister talked
about this Sunday in regard to race relations and encouraged us to
communicate and it’s the same thing you know color of your skin is not just
that’s not the only difference in humans and you know just learning to
communicate and and so that’s great yes and simple things you know to go order
you know chicken nuggets and french fries doesn’t require you to have a
degree in American Sign Language just learn how to say chicken nuggets
and french fries right right and it makes it a better transaction for the
employee and for the customer less stress yes I can imagine
yes and that translates for police officers and medical staff,
you know the more serious the situation just a couple signs and it makes it
better for both two for that professional to be able to do their job
appropriately for for the the client or the patient a couple simple signs a
couple just little things about Deaf culture that help with that
communication with that interaction and so that’s what we do is educate and
advocate okay can you tell us more about Sign Club Co and is there a way that our
friends who are watching can learn more about it is there you know website or
Facebook page absolutely and with Sign Club Co our
main goal is to educate the community so our main focus is on elementary schools or
elementary age children in different different parts of the community so we
go into elementary schools and start sign clubs we usually will meet before
after school for about thirty minutes sometimes an hour it’s even the school
we have a school sponsor there for liability reasons but we we have a
curriculum so someone within the school or a family member can come in and teach
that here locally we have some people who go into the schools to do that could
you tell us about the curriculum you use in the clubs and then also where are
these clubs where are we now what state are these clubs across
the nation for our friends might want to sure know what you’re talking about
sure and I’m the curriculum the reason it is in existence is because we we had
we started with five in the community clubs yes okay you’re in Hendersonville
Tennessee and we got up to I think the most we had was twenty two but we we
didn’t have enough people to man all of those or woman all of those clubs and we
were getting requests from other counties and other states we’re not
getting requests from Michigan and Texas to start sign clubs and so we received a
grant to put into writing what we do so the
next year we shrunk the number of sign clubs so that we could focus on that
curriculum so we drafted it we piloted it and then we just recently filmed it
so we now have the written curriculum we have it on DVD and it’s in a format so
that someday we’ll have links on our website our website right now won’t hold
it but we have it just it just fresh off the presses ready to go as far away as
Washington State, Pennsylvania, Texas we have specifically catered it for
elementary okay so the curriculum is designed to teach the teacher so the
idea is if there’s a deaf child in Fentress County and there’s a teacher or
a parent or someone in the community who who sees this child who’s isolated they
can pick up the curriculum with no prior knowledge of sign language they can pick
up the curriculum and start building a community around this deaf child so the
idea is it will jump start a conversation in that very first lesson
you’ll be able to tell any story you want in sign language after the first
lesson okay so so the club the clubs and all that was surrounding that has
evolved into now there’s this curriculum which exists that a person can pick up
personally you know if you have never signed at all
and you can use that to open doors to build community around you yeah those in
the Deaf culture yes and one thing a lot of people ask me
this they’ll say Poppy I can learn sign language online, why do I
need this? okay the difference is a couple of things. one we encourage
building community because it is not separate from the person and so we
teach with each lesson Deaf culture because you have to know where that deaf
person is coming from what their experiences are
something about the people that belong that the language belongs to them it’s
theirs and so they’re the authority and so we encourage that deaf child in that
deaf Club to become the to become the expert in to we encourage like having a
silent dinner once a month in a restaurant and meeting inviting the Deaf
in the community meeting them and inviting them into the club letting them
be the expert right and there’s that that’s their language and you know we
highly encourage bonding with the Deaf in the community and letting them become
leaders of the sign Club so this is the starter kit it’s to jumpstart but
there’s a lot of things in sign language that are like regional signs
you know there’s accents and dialects and some language. I have been told I have an accent it’s a beautiful accent I’ve been told.I don’t know that’s what people say yeah all right well you might have one in
sign language too You might speak southern in sign language that would be interesting huh nice thing on that yeah yeah so like in here and we have a
lesson on like a holiday okay there’s a thousand signs for
birthday and so what we have it’s not maybe around here at the birthday okay
okay. you told us years ago…isn’t that right? birthday and there
that was the sign and here it’s like this and you say here there we’re only talking
about a few counties away yes yes oh wow so that’s why I encourage whoever begins
any kind of sign language instruction that you learn what your deaf community
uses locally you can only do that if you’re hanging around them absolutely or
have have are a part of that absolutely community yeah and my husband were and I talk about this in the blog post that I’m writing that’ll be on
the website page that I’ve already mentioned but
you basically brought ASL to our church you know when we were years ago and so
you know we learned a little bit and of sign we learned a lot at the time so I’ve
retained a little bit and that was a fascinating time I loved that I loved
getting to know the deaf people and learning about the Deaf culture and of
course I loved having them in our home to feed them and as a side note because
y’all know I don’t stay on topic I’ll never forget you know Mrs. Underwood…Peggy…
okay yes she taught me as we were cooking pizza at our house the whole
deaf church you know everybody’s at our house and I signed how do you know it’s ready and she said they smell it and I haven’t
that was years ago 20 something years ago and now I’ll still say you know Mr. Patient will
say is it ready now? and I’ll say, I’ll smell it I do that’s what I do
and so that’s true so I learned and we learn from each other and the sign – yeah
but at least back. yes, that’s the sign for pizza, or pizza, so that’s one of my why is food I relate everything you know
my memory of the Deaf culture is related to food anyway Mr. Patient and I knew a little bit of sign and it was it
was exciting but what I was saying was the folks in the Deaf culture are not gonna come to you, it’s like at church if you’re a member of a
church of faith group you know more than likely the visitors there, hearing
or non hearing, or whatever they’re not going to come up to you and hey I’m a
visitor greet me mm-hmm and you have to go to them so I think that’s an
important thing to point out we have to no matter what our differences are we
have to go to them not sit around and say well you know they haven’t come to
me and said I want to be your friend so I’m off the hook and they will love you
just trying to learn and I think that’s what’s beautiful about that, they appreciate that,
yes the children we teach them five signs they meet a deaf person they go up
and sign all five signs to that one person whereas an adult we think oh no I’m gonna
make a mistake but the children are like yeah whatever right and the Deaf will
love you for just trying just trying to communicate and and you may make a
mistake we all do we will make mistakes we laugh about it we learn we move on
and it just makes for a funny story later you walk us through what yes you
have your and we didn’t mention how to how people learn more about you I’m
sorry sign club okay and I’ll type that down at the bottom and and
I’ll put a link down below if I can get real fancy and figure that out so and I
do not do a good job of keeping that updated okay because that’s in web
language yeah so we do have a Facebook page that I try to keep updated okay lot
of people on Facebook all right this is our book the actual curriculum the art
is designed by one of our sign club kids Megan Anderson little community that she
built around the sign um it has 30 lessons they can be completed in 30
minutes to an hour it has vocabulary Deaf culture for each
lesson and activities and games and songs we do encourage community
interaction is not just possible so we do have activities that we have
implemented in here as well and you can get as fancy as you want so in the
starter kit we have a thing for our club motto Club handshake we have a club flag
and you can personalize it for your particular club so you can get as fancy
as you want it just depends on whoever is the sponsor of the club and wanting
to take that on.. the curriculum State Standards our K through 5 we have them
matched up for social studies health and wellness English math for the numbers
lesson they match up with the math so 30 lessons in there and we have a
couple extra things for the teacher some of our teachers want to have some more
structure we we try to keep a focus on building community and so we put more
emphasis on the fun and less on the actual lesson grammar teaching but some
teachers want that. that’s how brains are wired so we have that in
there for the teachers as well. Every 9th lesson we have review and evaluation but it’s informal evaluation we have a book
that we recommend that you use all of the vocabulary and some language skills
up to that point to incorporate so I think it’s week nine the kids are
reading a book and some language and English and it’s really fun they feel
empowered because they can read a whole book in signlanguage so we have those
in there. and in the DVDs we have a lesson for each of the lessons I say
that some of the videos we have resources outside of our curriculum that
we recommend one on idioms one on poetry there’s some deaf who have created some
resources that are excellent so we just highly recommend those for those lessons
but for the evaluation we have a deaf gentleman who does storytelling so that
you can see how the stories are supposed to look there’s no right or wrong and
you are communicating visually in sign language and so that’s what we encourage
to to enjoy the language and the people that goes with it
so this is our DVD with our lessons on the back this is the free gift that
comes with the curriculum this is the why we do what we do this is stories of
death um mainly in Tennessee but it’s it’s a story of many sadly deaf children
the country so Deaf in a City of Music and all proceeds from this book when we sell
them go to a fund for research and solutions for deaf children who are
abused so it is a free gift that comes with this curriculum and then we have
some some other things that we will put into the curriculum that you can use
with the lessons that come for example and the legal lesson we teach the
national anthem so that your son club can sign the national anthem at local
ball games or events when it’s sung the kids can perform together but we also
include a little booklet to connect with your local police department so that you
can teach them or fire department or ambulance
EMTs emergency signs so the sign club kids can teach them some sign to help the
deaf in the community with accommodations resources with law
enforcement and first responders so that they too can get help and our little
kids become the teachers so that’s the goal of our curriculum. In TN recently
they passed made it official that ASL can be taught as a foreign language good
for that’s been needed yes yes yes so they are working on what that’s gonna
look like in Tennessee their requirements for ASL teachers a
curriculum that’s approved by high schools so until then we do have our
curriculum that’s being used with home schoolers okay and and you’re talking
about high school we do have high schoolers using it yes yes it can be used as a high school
foreign language requirement yes yes a home school high school foreign
language requirement yes yes okay great that’s good yeah that’s what we want to
do in our family in Tennessee it’s required that we they have two years of
the same foreign language so what about that I just thought of that
can we how could we have two years of ASL would this be one year and then what
a year that is a great question I don’t know. you know what I think I could we
could just supplement it. you don’t have to use this same curriculum you don’t
have to use the same curriculum for two years but you do have to have two years
of the foreign language if I’m wrong I’m going to apologize but I know having
graduated the first three children they had to have two years of the same
foreign language as required by our particular umbrella school so what I
would do and will do with these this would be our first year and then our
second year would be implementing it we keep up with the hours of signing you
know like we would keep up with signing with each other or if we had deaf friends that were willing to allow us to
practice with them because keeping up with the hours that’s part of that’s
permissible mm-hmm. Kids can watch videos and that kind of thing so there are ways
to have to make this two years oh sure and we have in something that we
encourage for communities if they can’t get a Sign Club in the schools like we
do a sign camp every summer and so we have good a lot of our kids that work
in Sign Camps In even our sign Club kids that are
in the schools they need service hours for national honours yes yes club or if
they’re in some schools require it just to be student scouts need service ah yes
so we have some kids in their particular school they have to have 80 hours of
service and so in summer they’ll work two weeks of camp and they’re great
that’s a great suggestion out yes so that’s good that’s yeah that’s great no
glad you brought that up well thank you for letting us talk to you about your
heritage and how you’re using that to build community and keeping that
heritage alive and your own daughters yes can sign they do they can they can
sign and that blesses others so and and one thing I laugh at secretly when I
was a teenager and my parents were saying we were going to deaf church and
I was you know I’m not proud of it but I was resentful of that and wanted to be with my hearing friends and then as I graduated and was my own person and I
met people in the community and those in need and there were so few people who
could accommodate and that was something that I didn’t consider it a gift then
but I later realized it was a gift so I see that in my girls now you know
we’ll have events we’ll have things going on and like Oh mom and yet when
they’re out the community they see a deaf person yes they’ll go up and say
hello and how they can help and they’re willing to accommodate and I just smile
and realize God works in mysterious ways. well thanks for sharing and oh how can
they buy this…. if they can contact me through email [email protected] then I send them an order form and
okay good so they would get the yes the main book yes and then this book is
authored by Poppy and the DVDs yes yes and then we have some of this and gifts
for the kids to pass out so like you said the emergency personnel and so
forth to help them. so yeah so that’s it thank you Poppy so much for sharing with
us thank you! Can we do HERITAGE WAYS? yes! let’s do that
yes she taught us a name sign. tell them what name sign even means,
please– a name sign is the way that the deaf community would identify you so
that they don’t have to spell out HERITAGE WAYS every time they talk about
so they have this. if your name is you know Elizabeth Mcdougal and to keep from
having to spell all that you would have an a name sign right like a
signing nickname yes yes so in sign my name is Poppy okay but in
sign language it’s Poppy okay because that’s flower so that’s what I got when I was six
years old and so that’s been my name in sign ever
since so today we gave one to HERITAGE WAYS all right well
thank you what’s very much thank you. You do it with two hands all
right so thank you thank you for the name sign. HERITAGE WAYS
I love it! Well, tell them thank you for watching. thank you I’m watching okay and we’ve got some background people I want
to say thank you for watching I want to say thank you for letting us background
people thank you for letting us have this time. so don’t forget to link to watch the
other video where we get into some practicalities. so thanks for watching y’all


  • can I ❤ this a gazillion times?? I love love love sign language! I have taught all my children starting when they were young infants. we LOVE the Signing Time DVDs and I recommend them to anyone who is interested! Sign language rocks!

  • A little unclear- are you trying to say Poppy wrote the book (authored) or approved its publication (authorized it)???

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