Personal Reflection #1

I guess this is my first “official” personal “reflection” on this blog for this ASL project and the innovations class. 

Here it goes,

I went into this class having literally no idea what I wanted to do. My friend brought up the Sign Language/Deaf Awareness idea and I got really excited about it. The year started rolling with this. 

This whole project is based on my infatuation with this beautiful and intricate language. I want to spread awareness and get this knowledge out there, while learning the language myself. 

We’ve tossed up a few ideas with what we could do within our school and district this year and we’ve really gotten into only one of our ideas so far. Our ASL snapchat. For the most part, it’s started very successfully! We post public stories each day in which students, or anyone really, can view to learn a new sign or simple fact. Almost every student uses snapchat daily, and this is a quick and simple way to hopefully spark something in our students. We’ve also had various students and a few staff members star in our snaps.  

Here are a few examples of what we’ve done with RedRiverASL on snapchat!

We’ve tried a few different things with our snapchat. We’ve gotten feedback from a few students that they couldn’t see exactly what we were doing in each snap so we started doing each sign twice in the videos. We’ve also had people send videos or snaps of them doing the signs to us. 

It’s gone pretty well so far. That’s about it. Swag.


What It’s Like to Sign a Song: An Interview With Two of the Stars of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening  

Here’s an article I read about Spring Awakening on Broadway, which includes American Sign Language and spoken English.
The character Moritz is played by two actors. Alex Boniello, who is hearing, sings and speaks the lines. Daniel Durant, who is deaf, signs all the words. The two actors work together to portray one character. It gives two different sides to the character and his story. This article has an interview with Alex and Daniel explaining their relationship and how they work together. 

Including ASL and deaf actors is what has made this revival so successful. Making such a groundbreaking show accessible to deaf audiences and actors has really changed Broadway. 

Deaf Actors in the Media – Deaf Representation

TEDxIslay – Linda Bove: Why We Need Deaf Actors in Deaf Roles

I watched this TEDx Talk about the importance of having deaf actors in deaf roles. I think it is done very well and brings up very important points. 

Representation in the media is not about putting minorities on a pedestal or exploiting them, it is about giving them an equal opportunity to be represented truthfully to the world. Representation is important for people who are not part of that minority to be educated on the culture of a group, and what people of that minority are like. Representation also abolishes stereotypes. If people see deaf/hard of hearing characters who are played by deaf/hard of hearing actors, they can be educated on the culture and see how deaf people are actually people.

A show like Switched At Birth on ABC Family which includes deaf actors, can educate a lot of people on deaf culture. It has healthy representation that takes away the stigma of what hearing people think the deaf community is like. 

Deaf/Hard of Hearing representation in the media also gives deaf actors the opportunity to do what they love, act. They also get to do it in the mainstream media and be praised for it as hearing actors are. 

Class Project – #ASLAwareness #ASLInOurSchools

For Innovations our project is based on getting the word out, making the students of our school aware of deaf/hard of hearing people and culture. Spreading awareness of something like ASL is interesting, it’s kind of a hard task to plan. I don’t really know how to go about it myself. We just have a few ideas. Here’s a few ideas to start off with simple awareness:

Idea #1: Posters throughout the school

We have the idea of making small posters with simple, basic signs and posting them around the school for students to see and read as they are passing by. Students will see them, and hopefully it’ll spark an interest and awareness for this language and community. If everyone sees the importance of learning basic communications we could create something really cool, I think. 

Idea #2 Snapchat account

Making a public snapchat account, adding students, and posting public ‘stories’ each day of a new sign that students can watch is an easy way to spread awareness of ASL. Basic every day signs, available in a way that teenagers use everyday. 

Add us at redriverasl  


Deaf West’s Spring Awakening – Deaf Representation



Deaf West’s Spring Awakening on Broadway 

This fall, a ground breaking new production opened on Broadway and has changed the lives of all audience members, cast and crew involved. Deaf West Theatre, based out of LA, has brought their staging of the musical Spring Awakening to Broadway, and it is not one to miss. The cast and crew consists of hearing and deaf actors, technical designers, and the creative team members. The show is presented completely through American Sign Language and spoken English. The sign language is worked into the choreography and has been carefully crafted into the songs for accurate interpretation.

This staging is a powerful and new interpretation of the already very important messages the show brings. Spring Awakening first opened in 2006 and changed Broadway forever. Now with this inclusive new revival, the show’s meaning is more prevalent than ever.

“The show is about the dangers of not communicating and what can happen when you don’t have empathy and step inside the experiences of another person and understand where they’re coming from.” States hearing actor, Krysta Rodriguez, who plays Ilse. Krysta was a part of the original Broadway production of  Spring Awakening in 2006 as well.

The show follows 11 young teenagers in 19th century Germany and the trials of  growing up and coming of age in a conservative society where talking about something like pregnancy is seen as repulsive. The miscommunication between child and adult have grave consequences for the three main characters, but also affects the rest of the children. Not being able to communicate and just wanting to be heard are things that deaf people have experienced and deal with quite daily. The show is truly just about children who just want to be heard, much like the members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Most characters have a hearing actor to sing and say the lines, and a deaf actor to sign while they both act together. Some characters are played by just one hearing actor, who signs as well. This new idea brings a new layer to seeing the thought processes of each character while dealing with their story lines.

This progressive new staging brings the hearing and deaf communities together, and breaks the isolation between the two. Having deaf actors is so important to the representation of this community. Over 20 Broadway debuts have happened through this show, many of whom wouldn’t have the opportunity without this show, Deaf West Theatre, and the direction of Michael Arden.  Ali Stroker is also the first actress on Broadway in a wheelchair, ever.

The inclusiveness of this production brings unity to all hearing, deaf, hard of hearing, and disabled actors and audience members.

How To Make A Musical For The Deaf

Buzzfeed Video:

Spring Awakening at Deaf West Theatre

Original LA Production:

TEDx Talk – Deaf-Blind Theatre

What we learn from the deaf-blind theatre: Adina Tal at TEDxHiriya

This TEDx Talk is done by a women who started the first deaf-blind theatre in the world, in Israel. I had honestly never even thought about that. I wasn’t really aware that deaf-blind was a thing. I think what Adina Tal has done is really awesome. The work she and everyone involved in this theatre has done is something worth talking about. This TEDx Talk is so interesting because it is important for hearing and seeing people to be aware of deaf-blind culture.

Adina talks about how their shows have been invited to come to New York and other countries around the world. They started with a show that take place over the timeline of making bread. This may sound really lame, like why would you want to see a show about bread rising and then cooking? But it is done this way so the actors have a strict timeline of events for what is happening during the night. Obviously, other entertaining stuff happens while they’re doing it, this is just the basis. After the show the audience is invited to eat the bread made with the members of the cast and crew. I think this is such a cool, different concept.

While my main focus for this Innovations project is ASL and deaf/hard of hearing awareness, I think this aspect of deaf-blind awareness is something important too. While this is a whole other topic, it is related.

Thoughts/Comments welcome.