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Does "Affordance" Mean "Thing-inform"?: Case Studies in Seeing Engineering Meaning Differently Through the Process of Technical ASL Vocabulary Creation

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

23

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32676

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32676

Download Count

204

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Paper Authors

biography

Mel Chua Georgia Tech

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Mel is an engineering education researcher who enjoys geeking out about developing languages for articulating engineering curricular cultures and their formation, open source hacker/maker communities, faculty development, and more. She occasionally draws research comics. Mel is also an electrical and computer engineer, a low-pass auditory filter, and a multimodal polyglot.

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Ian Smith Project Alloy

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Ian is a Deaf software engineer, currently working on devtooling for distributed systems at darklang.com. He also co-founded Project Alloy (https://projectalloy.org), which seeks to address issues of equity and representation at tech conferences. Other interests include transit accessibility, linguistics, and the noble pun. Find him on twitter at @metaforgotten.

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Miriam Nathan Lerner National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology

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Miriam has been a professional sign language interpreter since 1983 in academic, medical, performance art, and community free lance settings in Los Angeles and Rochester, New York. She and her husband have two smart sons and two dogs of indeterminate intelligence.

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Sarah Jacobs

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Rita Straubhaar M.Ed. Monroe Community College

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Rita Straubhaar M.Ed. is an Associate Professor of ASL and Deaf Studies at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY. She has been involved with ASLcore.org since it's inception. She can be reached at Rstraubhaar@monroecc.edu

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Ruth Anna Spooner

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Ruth Anna Spooner, formerly a professor of English, recently decided to stop moonlighting as a translator and make it into her full-time job instead. She currently works as the lead translator for a non-profit organization, translating frozen texts into American Sign Language. Her interests include literary translation, linguistics, literature, English pedagogy, creative writing, and the Oxford comma.

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Perseus McDaniel

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Perseus McDaniel is a master American Sign Language (ASL) translator. He is passionate about exposing ASL to audiences in multiple fields such as businesses, organizations, art, and the performing arts. His passion and experiences led him to establish a deaf troupe called INTO ACT. He participated twice in the Next Big Idea competition at the National Technical institute for the Deaf, won awards on language acquisition in ASL in synonyms, and was recognized for his services towards ASL accessibility. He is currently a founder/designer at ASLCART, LLC where he designed the top selling ASL card game called ABC LUCK!

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Abstract

(Note: A signed version of this abstract is available on http://aslcore.org. The English version below should be treated as an explanation designed for a non-signing audience; although this paper has been written in English, the primary working language of this project is American Sign Language.)

Engineering is a social activity where practitioners constantly use language in order to communicate. While not completely deterministic, the nature of the language we use influences how we think, communicate, and collaborate [1]. This paper draws from work on the engineering branch of ASLCore, a language creation project focused on developing vocabulary in American Sign Language (ASL) at the college level and above.

Due to the American education system’s historic marginalization of signed languages and their users, there are few conceptually accurate and linguistically appropriate signs for even basic technical concepts. The attempts of ASLCore towards rectifying that situation are instructive not only in the context of including an underrepresented group in engineering education, but in making-visible the sorts of disciplinary rethinkings such a project might contribute. In other words, this is not simply about creating more signing engineers to carry out business as usual. Rather, we believe the practices of signing engineers could change how all engineers think, communicate, and collaborate, and that the activity of deliberate ASL vocabulary creation serves as one example of how this might happen. In this paper, we position sign creation as a locus for examining the construction of engineering meaning.

This paper centers on two illustrative case studies in engineering sign development: (1) the stress-strain curve and (2) affordance theory. For each case study, we begin by describing the new sign prototype and how it fits the concept(s) it attempts to describe. We compare the new sign to previous options for signing each concept, contextualizing them as examples of the colonized/assimilated nature of Deaf Education in the United States. We then provide the backstory for the creation of our new sign prototypes, which illustrate the subjective nature of meaning-making within engineering. Finally, we examine how each new sign showcases the unique affordances a signed language provides in discussing engineering that a spoken/written language does not.

Chua, M., & Smith, I., & Lerner, M. N., & Jacobs, S., & Straubhaar, R., & Spooner, R. A., & McDaniel, P. (2019, June), Does "Affordance" Mean "Thing-inform"?: Case Studies in Seeing Engineering Meaning Differently Through the Process of Technical ASL Vocabulary Creation Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32676

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