ASL On Steroids For The Hearing

Now that Hurricane Irma has done her worst and we can exhale ( at least for now ), maybe we can also have a smile.

Many of you non-Floridians may have also seen this on national news broadcasts. My wife Wendy and I were watching the storm updates one morning last week, and our Governor, Rick Scott, was having a presser with vital information about Irma’s path and warnings for people that could be in it. As is typical with these announcements, there was a sign language interpreter next to Gov. Scott. Now normally, a hearing person doesn’t pay much attention to these interpreters since most of us don’t have a clue to what they are signing. But we couldn’t help but be distracted by the flurry of motion coming from the right side of the screen. This guy was more animated than a mime on cocaine and Red Bull. This is what we saw :


Of course, my 1st thought was that he went to the same ASL school as Thamsanqa Jantjie, the schizophrenic accused vigilante murderer/fake interpreter who stood on stage next to Batears at Mandela’s memorial in 2013 :

But I was wrong VERY wrong. Comments on the video from actual practitioners of ASL hold him in the highest degree. A sample comment was :

This interpreter in AWESOME! He’s legit. Facial expressions are an important part of American Sign Language. They are the grammar. Eyebrows up shows the topic of the sentence. He’s showing the seriousness of this storm, too. When you see someone standing there with no expression, just moving their hands, THAT is not legit sign language. Sign Language incorporates the face, hands, arms, and body movement. He’s amazing.

So, I looked him up and learned a few things about him.

Mr. Sam Harris

Sam Harris, M.A., CDI, is a native user of ASL and is one of the small percentages of Deaf people born into a Deaf family. He is originally from Massachusetts where he grew with a strong Deaf community and Deaf services. Sam received his master’s degree in Deaf Studies from Gallaudet University.  Since 2006, he has been teaching at the college level and currently teaches ASL and Interpreting courses at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Florida.  Sam is one of the very few ASL users with a rating of 5 on the ASL Proficiency Interview.  He enjoys exploring new developments in ASL/Interpreting education and fostering the professional development of sign language interpreters.

Sam and wife Keri own and operate an online ASL/Interpreter education business, TRUE-BIZ ASL, LLC, which also provides interpreting services.  The main component of their business is the Deaf Interpreter Training Online (DITO) program, the first and ONLY program that provides a comprehensive training online to Deaf Interpreters from all over North America.  On a personal note, they reside in Palm Harbor, Florida where they are raising three young boys.

And so Mr. Harris I owe you an apology. You are a master of your craft and provide a very valuable service to the hearing impaired. I know they must have clung to your every word. I know I did, so much so that I had to wait for a repeat of the segment so I could listen to what Gov. Scott was saying !

I don’t know much sign language, but I think you can interpret this message :



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13 Responses to ASL On Steroids For The Hearing

  1. Uriel says:

    Well done Terry! It’s great when background adds to understanding.

  2. Bullright says:

    Well, great check, and I think he could actually have a late night show.. He doesn’t need a straight man either. Btw: that guy on the right standing behind Scott looks like he could pass for a Bush.

  3. SafeSpace says:

    Great post, Terry. Learned something new today, and that’s a very good thing at my advanced age….

  4. 219rad says:

    Thanks to taking time to set the record straight. At first look and from my own ignorance in any sort of sign language he looked like a complete nut case. Not anything like the Grouchmeister when he was trying to teach me to sign as his hearing got worse.

    • Terry says:

      We were having a regular laugh riot when we saw him (pre-enlightenment). And he was quite entertaining on the Kimmel show I linked above to Bullright , though now I view him with respect along with amusement.

      As for the Grouchmeister, no doubt that given enough time, he would have had both of you being just as entertaining ! 😉

      • 219rad says:

        I’m sure that’s true. The only thing I picked up and was really good at was the “NO Chit” sign. Which is thumb along with index and middle finger using a double motion to open & close those 3 fingers followed by an open palm on the other hand and a hard slap of the palm. NO CHIT!!! lol

  5. I only know two signs. Okay and the other one.