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Professional Quality Video Conferencing for Sign Language


[Image description: An Asian man with short, gray hair is sitting in front of a gray backdrop. He is wearing a black, button-down shirt with rolled-up sleeves. He is using American Sign Language].

Spoken English Transcript:

I teach American Sign Language (ASL). Now sign language classes offered online are becoming more and more popular. Often, you’ll find that the classes use Zoom, Google Class, or Microsoft Teams (MS Teams). Today I’m going to talk about using Zoom. You’ll show up for an online class where we can wave at each other in real time. It’s basically in live but virtually. First, you download the Zoom app to your computer. The teacher will send you an email link. The link might be pretty long, but that’s okay. Once you get it, you wait until the time that your class starts. If your class starts at 11, you click on the link and you will possibly be in a waiting room that says ‘wait for the teacher.’ Then I see that your name is in the waiting room and I will invite you. At that time is when we see each other and can wave at each other. Then maybe there will be 15 more students that join in, so they’ll be 16 students on the screen. Students are often confused about some things, so I’m going to give you some tips. First of all, in the upper right corner you’ll see the 12 dots. If you click on that, you’ll have the option of speaker or gallery view. I recommend for sign language classes to always click on the gallery view- that way you can see everybody. Once that’s set, then in the bottom left corner you can see audio and video icons. So if you click on the audio, it will be red and a slash will go across it. So I recommend always leave your video on, so make sure it’s not red. Always close your audio. I don’t want to hear you; I don’t want to hear the dogs barking or babies crying. I just want to be able to see you. We don’t need those audio distractions. Now, your video should also look nice and clean- dress nicely, respect the other students. In addition, you want to have a nice light in front of you. You don’t want to sit in front of a bright sunny window because if you have the window behind you, your face will be dark. You want to face the window and face the light so that we can see you signing clearly. You also want to set the frame so that we can see the top of your head and your whole torso that way we can see you signing, we can see you moving your hands. It’s better to have a plain colored shirt and background rather than have a lot of designs, or a busy shirt or busy background. Instead of being in a space where maybe your brothers or sisters are walking behind you, close the door behind you. Make sure there are fewer visual distractions because a sign language class is going to last for two hours and we want to make sure it’s easy to watch. If you lose connection on the internet, don’t worry. Just click on the link again and I’ll invite you back into the room. For sign language classes, I really recommend a large monitor- the bigger the better. Using a small screen is difficult, and a phone is almost impossible. Several of my students… Sometimes people will be riding on public transportation and coming to attend class- it’s not the best. I even had one student who was brushing their teeth. Please, don’t take care of that personal business in class. So dress nicely and be prepared. Don’t be sitting on your bed or lying down on your bed. Be at a desk or a chair. As far as Zoom features, there is one that blurs the background. I think it makes it difficult to see signs and wouldn’t recommend that. This is just a general introduction to Zoom and I’ll get into more depth later.