Sunday, May 17, 2009

Learning American Sign Language

I am required to attain a certain level of proficiency in ASL (American Sign Language) by my third anniversary date in order to keep my job at the National Institute for the Deaf. To help me, NTID makes a variety of resources available. I take a class four times a week, have a tutor twice a week, and am going to attend residential camp this summer.

I have been pretty surprised at how little hearing people know about ASL. I didn't know much about it, but I assumed it was a fully developed language. After all, there are many many Deaf people using it to communicate on a daily basis, right? But my hearing friends and family seem to be kind of surprised by this news. It makes me realize how much we (humans) tend to think that if people aren't doing "it" -- whatever "it" is -- the way WE do it, then they just couldn't be REALLY doing it, right? ASL vs English isn't my blind spot, but I wonder what my blind spots are?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Our New Department website

My department at RIT rolled out a new website on Friday. We are accepting projects from faculty and staff -- called Major Design Projects -- that will constitute about 75% of the work we will do for the next year. To advertise the fact that we are now accepting projects, I asked the team to create a little Second Life piece and also to use augmented reality to make another one. The Second Life thing is on the site now -- the augmented reality thing will be there in a day or two.

I used some of the Scrum principles to manage the projects, and it went pretty well -- well enough that I am going to use Scrum in a much bigger way going forward.