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ASL Rose, located in Frederick, Maryland  was founded in 2004  as a Deaf owned and operated publishing company providing a bilingual approach to teaching American Sign Language and English. ASL Rose is dedicated to enriching the material used for curricula in the education of ASL and English by creating, producing and distributing Deaf literature and collaborating DVD sets. They strive to create materials that achieve the highest academic standards by using their expertise in education and partnering with ASL and English curriculum specialists. The company’s overall goal is to not only provide tools that inform and teach its users but also to foster pride for the deaf culture and within deaf individuals everywhere!
The inspiration of ASL Rose was derived from two Deaf women who are now the companies’ co-owners, Dr. E. Lynn Jacobowitz and Dr. Adonia K. Smith.
Owners educational background
Adonia K. Smith supports ASL Rose as a co-owner as well as the current Vice President of ASL Rose. Smith holds an Ed.D, in Deaf Education and Deaf Studies from Lamar University as well as Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters in Deaf Education from Gallaudet University. She has received extensive experience in teaching specifically in the areas of ASL, American Sign Language Literature, Bilingual-Bicultural Methods, Psychology and Deaf People, Introduction to Deaf Studies and as a Supervisor of Student Teachers. Smith’s unmistakable expertise in Deaf Education, ASL and Deaf Studies was utilized in the production of ASL Rose’s educational materials.
E. Lynn Jacobowitz is a co-owner and the President of ASL Rose. Jacobowitz not only has a M.Ed. in Education Communications from the University of Maryland but has also earned a BA in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Administration and Supervision from Gallaudet University. She has taught at length within the disciplines of ASL Literature, ASL Verbs, ASL Classifiers, Fingerspelling and Numbers in ASL, (American Sign Language grammar) Introduction to Deaf Studies, ASL Curriculum and Instruction. Jacobowitz has established herself as an expert in the field of ASL Teacher Preparation, ASL Literature and as evident with her accomplishments with ASL Rose, in the area of Curriculum Design.
Growing need for bilingual education
While Smith was teaching her deaf elementary students she faced obstacles in her attempts to convey letter association of English words to ASL signs. Smith’s student’s understood how to apply handshapes of the alphabet to signs. However, understanding how to associate the English alphabet to English words was much more difficult because there is no equivalent form of English to ASL. This is when she realized that a bilingual approach would best convey the subject matter to the students.
In English, teachers associate words with the first letter of the word, such as A for apple. However, in ASL the letter that begins a word may not be comparable with the sign used to express the word. Instead of letters ASL relies on handshapes to manually form words such as in fingerspelling. For example, the word apple, it is signed using the handshape for the letter X. But, as one student pointed out to Smith signs such as love, with or everyday would show the handshape for A and thus represent the letter A. Smith realized that shifting the approach of teaching alphabet association by referencing handshapes instead of English letters is much more appropriate for deaf learners.
At about this same time Jacobowitz was collaborating to develop a curriculum for first language, or primary language users in ASL. Unfortunately the development was never completed due to a lack of sufficient resources needed to create a complete a curriculum of textbooks and videos. During this research Jacobowitz realized there was a dire need for the development of materials that could be used in ASL education.
This cooperation to create and produce ASL educational materials brought the efforts of Smith and Jacobowitz together to establish ASL Rose. “Based on years of research of the cognitive, academic, and social benefits of learning in the primary language, Deaf education is now taught from an additive or enrichment approach in that language and culture are the foundation for all further learning.”
The company currently has one book published, “Have You Ever Seen…? An American Sign Language (ASL) Handshape DVD/Book” but continues to write and create education tools in an effort to develop a collection of bilingual educational guides. Their second book, “Waving Hands!!! The ABCs of Deaf Role Models in America DVD/Book” is currently being finished andwill soon be released. ASL Rose has also created poster boards as instructional aides for seasons and days of the week in ASL.
Have You Ever Seen…?
ASL Rose’s first book has shown a promising future for the products released by this company. Have You Ever Seen...? An American Sign Language DVD/Book received a 5-star rating from the Clarion Review in the Foreword Magazine. The book and DVD set “Have You Ever Seen…?” was created based on the educational needs for American Sign Language literature. This book is written to teach the forty-four most common handshapes accompanied by graphics depicting signs associated with the handshape. Instead of emphasizing the first letter of a word to associate an English word (i.e. A is for apple) ASL literature emphasizes handshapes to correlate a letter to a sign.
Each page in the book begins by asking the question, “Have you ever seen…? and is followed by a graphic character doing an action that are both based on the same handshape. Such as on the first page when the book asks, “Have you ever seen a donkey opening a window?” The handshape for both donkey and open window are the same. “The caption for each illustration is in the form of a question and when the question is signed an ASL visual rhyme is produced.”
But just in case the reader is not familiar with sign language or with the production of the signs including handshape, location, movement and palm orientation, the corresponding DVD shows the proper way to sign each question posed. “Under the direction of James DeBee, each chapter of the DVD features Deaf and hearing children signing the fanciful questions. Their contribution lends a jovial sense of rhythm and predictable repetition.”
The questions are of course absurd and are not meant to be taken seriously. “The purpose is to create a work of Deaf poetry, in which the language is visual rather than aural, and the beauty lies in what is seen, as well as in the experience of rhythm and movement required to make the signs.” Since culture is part of language, teaching Deaf culture is crucial to education in ASL. The graphic characters are accompanied by a caption explaining various aspects of Deaf culture, including Deaf theater, Deaf clubs, American deaf institutes, Deaf magazines, associations and organizations and many influential deaf people briefly accounting their contributions to the evolution of the Deaf culture. The language of ASL is nothing without the enriched background and history that surrounds it with Deaf culture. To truly understand ASL one must also understand Deaf culture. There are many deaf Americans that have yet to feel Deaf pride but this book strives to express value and create pride within each deaf individual.
- "E. Lynn Jacobowitz, Ph.D. - Gallaudet University". Gallaudet.edu. http://www.gallaudet.edu/faculty-staff/asl_and_deaf_studies/jacobowitz_lynn.html. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- Michael Rennick (2008-01-14). "Article". TCRecord. http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=14677. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "Frederick ASLTA Website - Vice President's Bio". Mdaslta.org. http://www.mdaslta.org/vicepresident.html. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "ASL Rose Website : Newsletter Volume 1 No.10". Aslrose.com. 2004-03-17. http://www.aslrose.com/reviews_hyes4.php. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "ASL Rose Website : Newsletter Volume 1 No.10". Aslrose.com. 2004-03-17. http://www.aslrose.com/reviews_hyes5.php. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- MultiCultural Review, Volume 16, Number 3, Fall 2007
- Jacobowitz, E. Lynn and Smith, K. Adonia. Have You Ever Seen…? An American Sign Language (ASL) Handshape DVD/Book. USA: ASL Rose, 2005