New App for Google Glass Helps Deaf ChildrenTechnology advancements on new platforms are making life easier and more efficient to many on a daily basis. We use mobile digital maps, speak our text messages via voice recognition systems and routinely shoot video on our devices for communication needs. Now, new technologies are being made for Google's Glass platform and the early results are exciting, especially in the ASL world.
Glass as emerging platformAn entirely new world for application development is starting to occur around Google Glass. Yes, it's that digital eyeglass apparatus you might have seen in a video or picture. Google has only sold or given out Glass to industry influencers, media outlets and high profile Internet types. But developers from all walks of learning, from ASL to sports, are looking at Glass for new applications, much in the same way that mobile developers looked at the Android platform a few years ago.
Google itself has clear directions for developers of different lifestyle and business apps that could 'play' on the Glass platform. Google notes that its Glass apps are different in nature and function than apps for Android devices. Glass applications should be timely, serve a need, fill a void for users and be available when users want them.
Google is also doing its best to suggest to developers not to annoy Glass users with too many built-in frequent notifications. It's all about the users, says Google, and it's best for users to interact with Glassware when they want to. When the user doesn't want to use Glass, apps should be kept away. Think of it as similar to the apps used with your device and other cell phone accessories. Glass works best when it provides a real, in-the-moment experience. To that end, Google suggests delivering relevant and useful content to the platform.
As always, Google wants transparency for its users. It suggests not to surprise users with some form of functionality that alarms them. Be upfront and honest about your intention with the app for Glass, and get permission from users before a new addition comes into play.
Effective ASL LearningIn the case of the ASL learning app, it's an indication that better things are bound to come on the technology horizon. The startup SMARTSign has developed a new app for both Android mobile platform and Google Glass platform that promises better communication between deaf children and their parents. It's a language learning tool using American Sign Language vocabulary items. Users choose the type of ASL vocabulary they want from an assortment of nearly 1,000 ASL signs. The app gives users options on how and when they want to study. Family members can "call" for videos of certain signs to better interact with their child.
For parents looking to have their deaf child move forward with language learning, there are keys ways how this app works on Android devices or on the Glass platform. Users can search via keyboard or voice to search for specific videos of different signs. They can study through the use of quizzes and self-recording to test the signs. The recorder function lets users check their learning by recording with the camera. There's also a viewing portion of the app to see your ASL signing and a report card function tracks your progress.
The app is now better suited for mobile devices. Its current use on Glass is only the SMARTSign quiz function, with record and search functions expected in the future. See the clip below for more insights.
Having been a student myself in college and ASL courses - there is a lot of required presentations in front of your classmates. Students ask me over and over how to overcome their nervousness or shyness or anxiety when standing in front of people.
I need to point out if you're planning to become an ASL teacher, or an ASL Interpreter, or a teacher for the Deaf using ASL - feeling comfortable in front of your audience is a very important skill to master.
The reasons I was anxious when standing in front of people were:
1) Not being prepared enough -
I have a poor memory due to ADD and other health related issues, I found out that I had to literally practice going over my presentation/story/narration 20 times a day way in advance. I had only 2 weeks to memorize my material - I would film myself 20 times a day - no matter how impatient or bored or irritated I got --- I forced myself to repeat the story over and over. By the time the 2 weeks was over, I was able to recite my piece fluently. Was I relieved when I showed up in class that I was prepared for the ASL Literature course (advanced level) - it turned out about 5 other classmates were not prepared at all and got a bad grade. Had they memorized their piece, the taking turns of reciting the story from The Bird of Different Feather would have been a fun and entertaining thing to witness but because quite a few ASL students didn't fully memorize their piece, the story didn't go smoothly in the circle.
If your teacher expects you to memorize a long material - I found making large posters and numbering each sentences and transcribing it into ASL gloss helped me to memorize large chunks better.
I still suck in memorizing stuff and I still hate performing in front of a live audience, but when a push becomes a shove, I manage still somehow. If I can do it with all the learning disABIlITIES I endure, you can too!
2) Feeling Too Shy When Standing in Front of Others -
Growing up as the only deaf child in a mainstream school - I was an extremely shy child. When I got into the Deaf school (MSSD) - again in the first year I was shy as ever as I figured my way around in the social settings - then with the help of after school activities - I joined a Peer Advisor program and they taught amazing skills to get a grip on my shyness and become a leader. Staff were very encouraging and walked me through every step of the way.
Start small: starting practicing reciting your presentation material in a mirror so you understand how you look, act, move, behave. Then work on filming yourself. Repeat filming and improving your errors until you're quite solid. Then present your material with a family member or a friend. Make sure your family or friend is an honest audience and is not too overly critical or too passive - real feedback is helpful to tweak your material until you get it just right.
Then ask a classmate who is skilled in ASL (if you don't know which classmate is a good signer - ask your ASL teacher for a recommendation) and see if your classmate is willing to meet with you and you both practice reciting in front of each other. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. I can't stress this enough - when I had to memorize an entire book for a play called Children of a Lesser God - it took me 6 months of sweat, blood and tears to cram it all in my mind. I somehow managed to get all the lines out and was voted as the best actress in Portland city from the theater of appreciation class who had to see 9 other plays during that semester. I'm grateful my hard work was appreciated.
3) How to Concentrate When You're Anxious -
You may have seen this old but actually helpful tip from others - one funny way to help calm your nerves is to imagine your audience naked - yes, NAKED --- if you can visualize that --- sometimes it will unlock your inhibition. Also, practice sweeping your eyes from side to side very slowly so that you're not hyper-focusing on one person. I used to make this mistake of staring at one audience until the poor person was squirming in his seat out of embarrassment. If looking at people's eyes is too scary for you still - look in between their eyes or even their chin.
Remember to occasionally SMILE from time to time so that people assume you're comfortable in your skin while standing in front of the audience. The number one error is to avoid smiling all throughout the presentation which has often resulted a lowered grade. So practicing gently smiling from time to time - especially when you're emoting a happy moment or a funny joke or pausing.
If your teacher allows you to bring notes - use it! It's beneficial to actually pause for a few seconds to help you regain your focus, calm yourself, even out your breathing and let the audience process all the information you shared.
4) Alternative Remedy - homeopathic -
Warning: I am NOT a doctor and you must consult with a professional homeopathic doctor to get the best result. I have tried homeopathic remedies for anxiety/stage-fright. My cast-mate who also suffered from stage fright took a few pills of homeopathy and he stated it helped calm his nerves. They come in little blue vials and you can find them in a health food store. There is usually a little booklet that you can look up symptoms - be sure to read thoroughly because they are very precise. A great site to look up from home is:
5) Hire an ASL Tutor to Go Over Your Presentation Until Fluent -
If you can't find anyone who knows ASL or live too far from a trusted ASL classmate to practice presenting your material, hiring an ASL Tutor will benefit you greatly. You can hire me, providing that you give us ample of time to go over the material - do not expect me to help you while you're cramming to do a lengthy presentation the day before the exam. You need at least 2 or 3 weeks of daily studying your information so that you're fluent on all aspects.
Check to make sure you are:
b) using appropriate NMS
c) correct ASL grammar
d) using ASL classifiers fluidly
e) emoting vividly
f) eliminate any nervous habits
g) able to memorize your material (if needed)
h) pacing correctly
If you're planning to tutor with me - be sure to already type up your (English) presentation - number them and then put 3 spaces between each sentence.
ASL Presentation: How to Give an ASL Presentation Fluently
1. The first thing you need to do is to organize your information that you will present.
ASL: #1, do-do? Your information present jot-down organize need.
2. Make sure to number each sentence so that you and your tutor can refer to the specific sentence easily so that it will save you both time and energy.
ASL: Understand, each sentence number, 1,2, 3... why? easy for your tutor, you scan, find... that save you-two time, energy.
For more examples of English to ASL Gloss click HERE.
3. Film yourself so you can review your presentation and self-critique areas that needs tweaking. Repeat this until you have no more to tweak.
ASL: Film yourself, finish, your presentation watch, finish, self-criticize improve. Repeat film, improve, film, improve, until precise.
Doing the paperwork before our tutoring session will save us a lot of time, energy and aggravation. I hate wasting my student's valuable time therefore I ask everyone to be prepared before we meet. Then you can use the newly ASL feedback after a tutoring session to refine your presentation.
May these tips above help you improve your ASL presentation in your class or any place that requires presentations with a live audience. If any questions, feel free to email me. :)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!