Starting in 2005, I worked with an agency from the Washington DC area (Camera Ready Kids) to enlist some great kids for my Signing Families sign language videos and print educational materials. These kids ranged in ages and knowledge of sign language. Each one were very special and simply charming!
Many of our models have grown to become professional actors and I have been awestruck by their accomplishments. Also, they have each become amazing young adults and I am proud and privileged to have known them all for more than a decade. Without further adieu – meet some of our Signing Families models – all “grown up”!
Victoria and I at the San Pedro Film Festival 2017
Victoria Grace knew from a very young age that she wanted to be an actor. A Hollywood actor. I remember our first photo session. She was so serious! But, she was (and still is) beautiful and talented.
Since working with me she has moved on to work on music videos with Kelly Clarkson, several TV shows and numerous movies. Victoria Grace has been nominated for her acting ability (The Young Artist Award), too!
Last night I was watching a recorded episode of the new medical drama, NEW AMSTERDAM. There in a pivotal scene popped up Zephyr! I remember Zephyr as a tough subject to photograph until she warmed up to you. But, always so “spot on” with her emotion and skills!
Madelyn has had a successful career, especially with commercials and now is a freshman at college!
(We will keep her current college a secret to protect her privacy!)
I couldn’t be more thrilled for these young ladies’ for having so much success as students, actors, and simply kind young people. I feel privileged for having known them “then” and being able to follow the careers – now! Victoria, Zephyr and Madelyn – go grab the “golden ring” with gusto! You ladies rock!
Side note: If you were a Signing Families model – we would love to know where you are and what you are doing now. Feel free to CONTACT us!
“Welcome to Signing Families”. I first wrote those words “officially” in 2006, the year that Signing Families became an educational / instructional company focused on teaching novice learners how to communicate with sign language.
Since then, hundreds of classes and sign language trainings have been conducted and thousands of DVDs and sign language communication charts have been sold or donated to people across the globe. My goal is simple – to build communication bridges one sign at a time.
How did it all begin? Well… one day while I was a School Psychologist working at an elementary school I was asked to attend a special education IEP meeting with a parent who had a child with moderate – severe Autism. Our school based team had just recommended that to help try to facilitate spoken speech or any communication, she may want to consider taking sign language classes. With tears in her eyes she looked at us and asked one simple question, ” Who will watch the child you just told me needs 1 on 1 assistance in his special education self-contained classroom due to his severe needs while I leave for hours to learn sign language?”
My heart stopped. As a mom of two children, I knew exactly what she meant. I had a child who was born with conditions that meant he needed specialized babysitting when he was a baby. I could relate to the challenges that this parent was facing. There was no way she would be able to leave her child with a “regular” babysitter. She was a single parent. She had limited financial resources. She was frustrated. But, most of all – she was upset because she couldn’t provide the one thing she yearned most for her child – an ability to learn to communicate.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning because I continued to hear her voice… “Who will watch the child you just told me needs 1 on 1 assistance..?” The next day I decided I needed to help this mom. It just wasn’t fair. She was dealt a tough situation and we just made it worse. That was unacceptable. So, after a while I created a temporary “fix”, I would make a sign language video with a few dozen basic words and put it on a basic DVD.
Word got out and before I knew I was in the DVD business – making dozens of copies for teachers, friends and even for relatives of people I didn’t know. The phone kept ringing. Email requests flooded my inbox.
That is when “Hubby” said… “I think you have something here.” So, we enlisted some talented people to help create the first DVD from Signing Families: Baby, Toddler and Preschool Sign Language with Louise Masin Sattler and Friends. The differentiator between my DVD and many others was that the audience was “language role models” and not kids. There were no dancing bears or signing birds. Moreover, I open captioned the DVD and added a Spanish – English – Sign Language component. I did this because there was virtually very little sign language instruction available for parents of children with communication needs who were from Spanish speaking homes but living in the United States or Canada.
Emergency Sign Language DVD
DVD sales started off slowly but then the momentum kicked in when Borders and Barnes and Noble started to order. Before long sales were in the hundreds, then thousands. I then created ancillary components to the DVD. A sign language chart to help with expressing WANTS and FEELINGS. This was followed by a website with a plethora of free learning opportunities. And, a very full nationwide training schedule for special needs groups, schools, preschool programs, Head Start and much more.
In 2010 my second DVD series and training program launched. The Sign Language For Emergency Situations was born out of necessity. Simply, we as a nation were not offering equal access communication opportunities to those who were Deaf or had limitations with functional needs. I have written about my journey in the field of emergency management on this blog before. Please feel free to ask me about resources in the comment section below.
Now it is 2019 and the world is a different place than 2006. Instead of DVD sales we have ‘streaming”. So, that means that I have to make a shift in the way I reach an audience. I have uploaded many free YouTube videos for people to either start learning sign language or continue honing their basic skills.
I must confess, a year ago I nearly closed Signing Families. I had lost my “WHY”. I wasn’t selling huge lots of product or traveling as much for trainings. I was the “lost entrepreneur”. But, then I started to look over boxes of materials I saved. Letters from families. Drawings from children. Emails from teachers. Commendations from First Responder groups. I was humbled and knew that I couldn’t stop. I just needed to reinvent. So, I started to teach ASL at a high school, I began to think of new ways to reach an audience yearning to learn to sign and clicked the keys of my laptop once more to inspire parents and teachers via media articles not to give up. At last, I remembered my WHY.
So… dear readers – thank You for allowing me to tell my story. You are groovy, indeed!
Now that you have learned a few simple words. Let’s learn some simple action words!
Many times we need words to for every day activities.
Starting with words appropriate for all ages:
GO TO THE BATHROOM (POTTY)
SHAKE your WRIST with the “T” handshape
SLEEP (Young Child Sign)
For Older Students:
To WANT (pull hands towards you)
PRACTICE: Now that you can spell finish these signed sentences
1- I (point to self) EAT ________
2- I (point to self) DRINK______
I (am) GOING to ____________
Also, fingerspell these places :
EXTENDED LEARNING: This sign has an X handshake but none of the words it can convey in ASL start with the letter X. Which words (there are at least 5) can you make with this handshake? (Hint: One word this can communicate is TO NEED)
1- TO NEED
Recommended viewing for older students and adults: (note mature themes)
Children of a Lesser God
Beyond Silence – German / English subtitles/ German Sign Language
How to approach the topic of Deafness? Preliminary assignments for students.
1- Ask your students if they have any experience within the Deaf community. You may be surprised to find out that some have quite a bit of knowledge.
2- Do any of your students have previous exposure to sign language. Perhaps they know signs such as MOMMY and DADDY or the alphabet / numbers?
3- Some students may benefit by being given the assignment of watching television with no sound or captions for 30 minutes. Can they follow the storyline? (Older kids should be encouraged to watch a variety of shows, such as the news. Discussion points can include what was easier to follow?)
Second portion of this assignment can include asking students to watch television or videos WITH captions! Another discussion can be the value of closed captioning and the laws that enable closed captioning for equal access.
**FIRST SIGNS to TEACH:
Preschool students: (These signs are ready for download on our GALLERY PAGE)
SIGNING FAMILIES EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION MINI-CHART
This pocket-sized emergency communication chart has FOUR different languages represented. Photos for a dozen important informational signs are in sign language, English, Spanish and Chinese!
There is a space for writing with a washable marker allows for efficient communication during challenging situations, such as medical emergencies or disasters. Also, numbers, common symbols (such as for email) and the alphabet is included. This card has a special coating for easy cleaning.
This emergency mini – chart has been used by thousands of First Responders and Community Emergency Responder Teams (CERT). Also, valuable for those who work in schools, are involved with service related industries (such as bus drivers, flight attendants, etc.). Restauranteurs and hospitality workers are also using this chart to help customers who are in need of assistance.
We offer this chart for those who reside in the United States.
Price includes shipping within the USA. Don't want to order via PayPal or don't see a button to order? EMAIL US at the LINK BELOW!
Bulk orders needed? EMAIL US!
Shipping included, but note: we only ship within the United States. For outside the USA orders – please send an email. Thank you.
This year – start your BACK to SCHOOL planning with FREE Sign Language Programming from SIGNING FAMILIES!
Am I kidding? Free lesson plans??
This year I have decided to offer via my educational platform – SIGNING FAMILIES – a FREE series of beginner sign language classes. These classes will be “subscription only” but FREE to all who register.
The intended audiences are as follows:
Special Needs Support Staff (such as behavioral specialists)
What to expect:
Each lesson starts with target vocabulary by age. Preschoolers will get simple words to learn while older students will be instructed to more enriched vocabulary, the alphabet, numbers and grammatical concepts.
For all students discussions about Deafness is encouraged. Resources are offered.
How to present the material, videos, downloadable photos and images and creative ideas to practice – all are part of the lesson plans.
Lastly, an opportunity to exchange ideas by asking questions will be a feature!
Once you subscribe the access codes to the lessons, as they become available, will be emailed to you.
There is no “hidden agenda” to this offer. Simply to educate more people about sign language.
I have seen so many positive outcomes when people know sign language – even the basics. If you like the idea, but don’t want or need lesson plans for sign language instruction – please consider sharing this information. Who knows?! – An educator may happen upon your post and love the idea!
Questions? Please use this contact form to ask any questions!
I will not sell my list of subscribers to any company. Your info is kept private!
Sign language is popular! Why? Because, this past year, Deaf actor, dancer and model – Nyle DiMarconot only took top honors as America’s Next Top Model, but also won with partner, Peta Murgatroyd, Dancing with the Stars! An amazing feat!
It was exciting to see how Nyle seamlessly weaved his world of ASL with dance. Moreover, his enthusiasm for sign language has had a serious trickle down effect – as many hearing people now are motivated to learn this beautiful visual language.
If you are a person who would love to learn the basics of sign language, but don’t know where to start – let me help! I put together a series of videos now available on my YouTube channel and just added my 5 TIPS to LEARNING SIGN LANGUAGE (also posted below).
Shamelessly, I will add here that you will find resources, free videos and downloadable sign language images on my website – SIGNING FAMILIES.
Before I end this blog with the 5 Tips for Learning Sign Language videos, I want to publicly thank Nyle for all he does to promote ASL in our communities and for advocating for Deaf children and bilingualism. BRAVO!
Starting tomorrow, October 1st, I will be hosting a 31 days, 31 ASL CHALLENGE on YouTube. It is my goal to teach people FREE how to communicate using basic sign language. The signs will be geared for daily living and school terminology with a sprinkle of signs in the event of a disaster or medical emergency. Sign language has traditionally been considered only used within the Deaf community. However, more and more children and adults with Autism and Down Syndrome are now learning sign for communication, too! So many reason to learn!
Where to start?
First, set aside up to five minutes a day to learn some basic sign language and practice! If you subscribe to my Youtube channel you will receive reminders every time a new video is uploaded. Secondly, if you are so inclined, please share these one minute videos with others. And lastly, enjoy the journey of learning this visual language.