Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do video sign language classes work?
Family Signs families and instructors are able to see and hear each other by using free videoconferencing applications such as Zoom or Skype.
Applications run on standard home computers with webcams and high-speed Internet connections to provide high quality video connections. Families and instructors may use videophones, iChat, or Facetime if both family and instructor have access to the same equipment. Audio and texting capability supplement communication, as needed.
Families and instructors are expected to have computers with webcams and high-speed Internet. Email and web access is needed for communication between families, instructors, and the Family Signs Coordinator.
Q: Who can participate in this program?
Family Signs is funded to support parents or guardians of deaf and hard of hearing children (ages birth to 21 years old) in Texas. The Family Signs Coordinator may consider including other family members of deaf and hard of hearing children with priority given to parents and guardians.
Q: Can children participate?
Family Signs is designed for adult family members or legal guardians of deaf or hard of hearing children and their household. An adult must participate in each class.
Q: How much does Family Signs cost?
Family Signs instruction is free. However, families will be expected to have their own:
- computer with webcam
- high-speed internet connection
- email and web access
If the family has a computer with high-speed Internet connection but does not have a webcam, we may be able to loan one. Classes are usually conducted from the family's home although other locations with high-speed Internet access may be used.
Q: What are the technical requirements for the computer, webcam, and the high-speed Internet connection?
Internet service should provide a consistent connection of at least 4.0 Mbps. (download and upload).
Go to Bandwidth Place to test the speed of your computer.
Q: How many people can participate in a video class?
The technology used is conducive to one-on-one classes or group classes of up to 3 people.
Q: How often do the classes meet?
Classes are scheduled for 30 minutes each week at a set day and time. The actual schedule will be set by each family and instructor.
Family Signs follows typical school semesters:
- Fall Semester: September - December
- Spring Semester: January - May
- Summer: June - August*
*Family Signs is funded annually and summer classes are offered only when funding allows.
Q: How do I obtain curriculum materials?
Most families start with the Bravo Family Series curriculum, which is a series of 15 lessons that focus on developing basic American Sign Language (ASL) conversational skills. However, if a family already has advanced sign language skills or requests SEE, other curriculum options are available.
Families are not required to buy any curriculum materials but some have found it useful to have access to personal copies of the materials. There are several options to access materials.
Families can borrow sign language videotapes or DVDs from the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP). Many of these can also be viewed online using streaming video on your computer. All DCMP services are free. You will need to register as a member to watch media online or order a DVD copy to be shipped to you.
Families can also purchase materials from distributors, such as Harris Communications, Dawn Sign Press, or Sign Enhancers.
Q: I am interested in participating in Family Signs, what do I do next?
If you are interested in teaching for the Family Signs program, review the instructor information.