So You Think You Can Sign?

ASL sign for COMPLAIN. Make this sign with a CLAW handshape and don't forget to scrunch your face!
The I LOVE YOU hand! I don't know how long it took for me to learn that this sign was comprised of three letters of the ASL alphabet.. I, L and Y...
ASL sign for PARTY. Of course, as a college student this was a must learn beginner's sign!

I have been asked on numerous occasions to recite the reasons why I learned American Sign Language (ASL) thirty-something years ago when I was a student at the land of Blue Hens- The University of Delaware.  And I laugh each time.  You see, way back when I met some really groovy gals in my dorm complex who were taking up this “sign language” for fun and to suffice their college language credits. The first word they showed me in sign was COMPLAIN!  Yep, I learned to kvetch in sign before anything else.   I was fascinated of the prospect of using this silent language in addition to the few other spoken languages I knew.  So, I started to take sign classes/ workshops/seminars… and haven’t stopped since.

Now not all of my sign language training was pretty.  I started by learning something called SIGNING EXACT ENGLISH  (SEE).  Nowadays, I admonish any student that uses SEE in my ASL classroom, although I maintain a healthy respect for it’s applications as a teaching tool when it comes to the instruction of  language arts and reading in the elementary years. It should come to no surprise that I have learned to shop ASL, too.  Which explains the countless bookshelves of  my huge collection of sign language dictionaries, signed movies and even a stamping set to make cute little ASL notes.

Which brings me to present day. As fate would have it, I was able to meld together my love of sign language and developmental psychology in to one company- SIGNING FAMILIES.  I would like to think that my little company is one that helps to build communication bridges one SIGN at a time.  It gives me great joy to see people of all ages and abilities learning to use their hands for communication.  Maybe one day it will be you?!


Enjoy learning my “first” signs (above) and visit SIGNING FAMILIES on FACEBOOK or the website to learn many, many more!  For more information on sign language, SIGNING FAMILIES  and a whole ton more.. visit SIGNING FAMILIES..


PAY ATTENTION... there is a somewhat important message here....



AND NOTE:  If you are a mom or dad blogger and wish to preview our new materials for educators, healthcare staff,  rescuers, disaster relief shelter workers and more- please contact me via our website or Facebook page.  THANKS!

Hang’in with My Tweeps

I know that thousands of people use Twitter everyday.  And they “follow” people who have like interests, fun tweets or are “somebody famous”.  As a person who tends to follow more than be “followed” (what can I say I am friendly)… it was a pleasure to meet a number of tweeps on my recent trip to California.

I had a great time learning about (an organization to assist people who are caregivers to their aging family members) from @SmileyChica (Denise Graab).  What fun we had hang’in out in San Fransisco at a classic 50’s diner..

Then I got to meet my pals from (@JustAskEdu and Education_Com).  These two gals (Kat Eden and Alex Bickerly) have energy to spare! And the work they do on behalf of students, teachers and parents worldwide is exceptional.  We broke bread with a “fellow” JustAsk contributor, Annie Fox (@Annie_Fox).  I must admit we all had more then our share of belly laughs over platefuls of yummy food!! And we managed to get some serious idea exchange during dinner, too.  The best part of Twitter is that there seems to be a continuous ebb and flow of ideas and biz support among those who you learn to trust and respect.  (We all agreed that “brain suckers” are not worth the follow- these “what’s in it for me tweeps ” can stay away from my twitter stream.)

I was so amused by @BabyStayAsleep (Beth Gagne).  She is so full of festivity that I couldn’t help but feel that I met my San Fran twin! BTW- her product is brilliant.  As is the one that was demonstrated at MACWORLD- the Papershow.  @Assistivetek (Brian Friedlander) made a splash with his demos and videos! Bravo to all at Macworld… And thanks to @CoachBrilliance (Astrid Stomberg) for brightening a dreary rainy day by bringing her gorgeous daughter to meet and greet me!

After five wonderful days at MacWorld, I left San Fransisco and traveled a little south to meet the gang from the Chronicles of EMS (@ChronicalesofEMS).  These friends know how to make a non-EMS person very welcome, especially in the pouring rain!  Thanks to @SamBradley11 and @Setla (Ted) I was fortunate enough always to have a warm cup of java in my hand.  @TheHappyMedic (Justin Schorr) kept me laughing through the taping of the three segments of the Chronicles of EMS breakout show- A Seat at the Table. We loved chatting about communication including sign language and I even got to mention on the air some of my fave communicators including @CodaWann (CallVRS- Keith Wann) and #CansonPapershow.

My twitter road trip ended in Southern California where I got to switch from ASL to Spanish with @Momtomadre.   Connie Goldin is one dynamic lady and I must admit that I enjoyed playing “musical chairs” with her so she could have her shade and I my sunshine! I look forward to our continued brainstorming of future projects.  And it has been a blast shopping, dining and laughing with my favorite gal-pal,  mi hija, @NatashaSattler.  I am amazed how much she has accomplished in such a short time since she moved to LA.  Auditions, new headshots and filming!

I leave California in 12 hours and will be welcomed at LAX by #SWA (Southwest Airlines).

It sure has been nice tweeting all my new tweeps.  And if ever you doubted the power of Twitter or social media in general – well, I believe that I am one of many success stories as to why entrepreneurs need to network with others.  However, one must adhere to a few important rules- give more than you take, play nice, don’t stalk and be constructive – not negative.  These rules of course are #IMHO*

TTYL.  And thanks for the #FF**

*In my humble opinion.

** Either Friend Follow or Friday Follow….depends on who is using it and what day

Thaddeus Setla- Helping Train and Entertain EMS

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a topic I have written about several times in within this blog.  Many of you are familiar with my interest for educating paramedics, trauma specialists and nurses how to use sign language effectively  with people who use sign as their primary or secondary mode for communication. The response has been overwhelmingingly positive thanks to the help of a few friends, Thaddeus Setla included!

Thaddeus is known throughout the EMS community as the filmmaker and catalyst behind the Chronicles of EMS  (CoEMS) and a fun little forum known as a Seat at the Round Table.   Chronicles of EMS is a series which has garnered the attention of people within the film and EMS communities as an outstanding independent attempt to have everyday people and EMS personnel sneak a peek in to the life and times of daily medical services within the field.  Whether the Chronicles of EMS spotlights a serious critical incident or how EMS personnel are called in to action simply to find out that a homeless person is seeking free medical care and attention in a hospital, the stories are always interesting.

I had the opportunity to interview Thaddeus and will hope to do so again, soon!  I also am privileged to have been invited to San Fransciso in order to film a segment, two or three regarding special needs children and how EMS can best assist them during a medical or disaster event.

Here is our interview and also please visit and SUPPORT the Chronicles of EMS. This quality filmmaker and the people involved with CoEMS deserve a shot in the spotlight through PBS, Discovery Health Channel or any other network which cares about showing a quality story to many.

Here is our interview on the VIMEO CHANNEL (and when I can figure out how to get it to upload correctly- it will appear here too):

EMS 101- 36 hours of LEARNING!

I returned late last night from the annual conference of Emergency Management Services (NASEMSO).  I met dozens of directors and coordinators  of EMS/Trauma programs from most of the 50 states and territories .  I can honestly say that it took a side trip on my way home to Crackle Barrel for me to decompress from all that I learned.  Here is the condensed version-

  • There is no way you can meet and discuss the real life concerns and endeavors of EMS and not leave in AWE of the dedication of these amazing professionals.
  • The technology available for EMS and Trauma is in many cases being created faster than state budgets can afford to purchase it and implement it in facilities.  However, there is so much advanced technology available to save lives today during a disaster that it will spin your head! I couldn’t help but feel that was I was at Disney’s EPCOT when looking at some of the most intricate technology to be used on site of a disaster. Simply outstanding.
  • EMS/ Trauma  directors and coordinators have a sense of humor.  This was very refreshing to know that they could laugh – a lot- despite having high pressure jobs.  BRAVO to all of them.
  • EMS/ Trauma professionals LOVE PlayDoh and Silly Bandz. Yes, you read that correctly.  You want to discuss the needs of deaf and communication challenged children- just put a bowl full of Silly Banz with rescue designs in front of grown-ups and let the conversation flow! For the record, the most sought after “band” was the fire hydrant! Yellow and pink were the preferred PlayDoh colors- not that I was counting or anything.

In closing, I want to publicly thank all the EMS/ Trauma professionals who took time out of their busy conference schedule to spend a few minutes with me to learnabout Signing Families™ and how I could perhaps help with communication needs in their regions.   I truly am grateful.

Louise Sattler is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Owner of Signing Families™ , frequent blogger to many educational websites and the host of the soon to launch radio program on the HerInsight Media Network– The Louise Sattler Show-  Where Learning Meets Laughter!

EMS 101

Next week I will be going to a very important conference- NASEMSO– the National Association of State EMS Officials annual meeting.  This will be unlike any gathering of the minds that I have ever attended. And I am really excited as I have worked hard and waited a long time for this opportunity.

Nevermind that this will be an opportunity for me to discuss the advantages of sign language for all emergency responders and healthcare providers with people who are the “shakers and movers” in the the EMS milieu.  Nevermind that I will be able to educate people about how to approach a deaf child or one who has special learning challenges, such as Autism, during a critical incident.  Nevermind that I will be proudly showing my SIGN LANGUAGE FOR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS series of products and information.

My reasons for excitement are purely selfish.  Next week I get to be both the teacher and the student. I can be a participant in sessions that will help me to learn more about the the fabric of emergency management.  What training does a First Responder need?  How do cities determine how many ambulances are needed? Do EMS organizations have special considerations for bilingual/bicultural families? What are the latest and greatest technologies in ER care for trauma doctors?

And if I can help others next week, too- well then that would be icing on the proverbial cake!

Thanks for reading!  If you would like to read more about Sign Language for Emergency Situations and the reasons why I created this series please see this blog entry  ” WHY I CREATED SIGN LANGUAGE FOR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS”

Louise Sattler is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Owner of Signing Families™ , frequent blogger to many educational websites and the host of the soon to launch radio program on the HerInsight Media NetworkThe Louise Sattler Show-  Where Learning Meets Laughter!

Hopefully by this time next week she will have learned a lot of information about the EMS.  Feel free to learn more about Signing Families” EMS trainings by sending an email to


There are many great resources to learn more about EMS

I highly recommend the CHRONICLES OF EMS

and Spirit of Autism

Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) and More!

Did you know that the United States, England and Australia all have different sign language systems?  Yep, you are reading this correctly… despite all of these countries using English as their “native” spoken tongue, their sign language systems are all different.  Tell me more, you ask!?  All of the countries have similar signs that are gestural, such as for DRINK.  However, the alphabet and numbers are all completely different.  England uses a two handed system which frankly I find difficult.  (What happens if you are carrying a package and need to ask someone to “ring you up on the phone”?)

ASL (American Sign Language) was brought over to this country from France.  It has undergone some drastic changes, but structurally the grammar is very akin to French.  Which is why students of the French language often do well learning ASL.  I also believe this is why the Brits don’t use ASL.  They will allow French wine and pastries in to the United Kingdom but never a sign language system that was rooted in France. Now if you are British don’t get angry, I am not hear to chose sides, but really- a two handed alphabet?  You could have chosen ANOTHER one handed alphabet!

Now what about the Australians… Recently I was asked by Shara Lawrence – Weiss from (PCS)  to send some of our joint Signing Families and PCS products to Australia. In particular our educator series for preschoolers (I Can Count to Ten in ASL, English and Spanish and the Trilingual chart for the prompts I WANT and I FEEL).  I asked Shara what American School in Australia wanted our products and she replied that it was for an Australian school.  Hold the presses!  That won’t fly Orville!  So, I had to explain the whole story about ASL  not having much in  common with UK sign systems, including the ones across the Pacific Pond.  But, don’t fear we can do this I thought.  So, this week PCS and Signing Families are making by request Australian Sign Language counting books and language charts.  We will take new photos and develop at least one new chart for teachers of the deaf and preschoolers to use in their Australian classrooms.  Who knew that one simple request could start a whole new series of products and workshops for us!

At the bottom of this post is my attempt to show some basic Australian Sign (AUSLAN).  Enjoy and please ignore my ‘I am exhausted look’- the World Cup has taken over my life and watching on FIOS demand has been exhausting, albeit fun.

Now for Father’s Day.  As you know, this Sunday is Father’s Day here in the US.  Many people get all mushy around Father’s Day, I sometimes do, too.  My father died twenty years ago and I wish now that I had made a bigger fuss on Father’s Day then we did.  He was a great communicator, educator and in his own way, comedian.  He loved kids and life, in general.  The last June weekend of every year is dedicated in his memory by our family.  You see this is wheni my brothers, myself and our families  converge on little  Wellsville, New York all at once.  This hamlet of a town is where our Dad was Superintendent of schools for more than 15 years and our task  each year on this weekend is to give a college scholarship to one deserving Wellsville High School graduate.  We never give the award to the best or the brightest.  We always try to find a student who exemplifies hard work and determination against all odds. For some, this scholarship makes the difference between attending school or not.  And each year we are full to the brim with pride as one of Stan Masin’s grandchildren now gets the opportunity to stand in front of a thousand or more people to announce the recipient of the scholarship in his memory.   So, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s in the world who help teach their children great values  such as how it is so much better to give than ever to receive.

Enjoy the YouTube Video of AUSLAN.