Home

Jami N. Fisher, ASL Program Coordinator

Official Title: 
ASL Program Coordinator
Office Location: 
Williams Hall 404

Courses Developed:

  • New Courses
    • LING 078, Topics in Deaf Culture
    • LING 075 Advanced American Sign Language, part I.
    • LING 079 Linguistics of American Sign Language
  • Redesigned courses:
    • Medical American Sign Language (to be a parallel track to Intermediate ASL, part II), ASL 3 and 4 (curriculum split between the two courses and new materials added)
Email: 
jami@upenn.edu
Education: 

Ed.D. University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education (2014)

M.S. Ed:  University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (2002) Education, Culture, and Society

Master’s thesis:  Linguistic, Cultural, and Social Border Crossings among Deaf Youth

B.A.: Colby College (1997)  English, Education

Research Interests: 
My current research interest focuses on documenting and analyzing the different use of ASL in among Philadelphia-area signers. The aim of this project is to collect data for further research on the Philadelphia-area ASL dialect, thereby bringing new insight into variations in American Sign Language. In addition, I am interested in the intersection of research and practice in ASL and Deaf Studies. In particular, I work on integrating the theoretical and practical considerations needed for partnering with local Deaf community groups into our ASL/Deaf Studies curriculum. Collaborative partnership in and with Deaf community groups is an approach that is essential for assuring the trust and buy-in needed for future Deaf Studies-based research by Penn faculty. These approaches apply practically in project-based partnerships with two Deaf community organizations, Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Germantown and Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre in Swarthmore. The ASL program has worked to maintain a collaborative partnership with these organizations, co-developing projects that benefit both Penn and the Deaf community. Projects manifest in two ways: in an Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course, ABCS in ASL/Deaf Studies, and in local, national, and internationally-based project endeavors with other Deaf community organizations. In the ABCS, Penn students work at Pennsylvania School for the Deaf on a regular basis to provide meaningful service based on the community’s needs. Students receive course credit for their thoughtful reflections on their interactions and experiences vis-à-vis written and in-class analyses using linguistic and cultural theory. Other projects, including a new endeavor with a consortium of Deaf Schools in Italy, center on programmatic collaboration for mutual benefit aimed to grow opportunities for innovative research and practice for all participants.
Selected Publications: 

Mirus, G., Napoli, Donna Jo, and Fisher, Jami. (2012). Taboo-terms in American Sign Language. Lingua. 

Napoli, D. J., Mirus, Gene, Fisher, Jami. (2011). Bleached taboo-term predicates in American Sign Language (Submitted to Lingua for publication). Unpublished Article.

Fisher, J. and Mattiacci, Phillip John. (2008). Civil Rights in Deaf Education. In D. DeLuca, Lindgrin, Kristin A., and Napoli, Donna Jo (Ed.), Access: Multiple Avenues for Deaf People (pp. 75-98). Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

Fisher, Leslie Rand and Fisher, Jami. (2008). The Deaf and the Origin of Hand Signals in Baseball. National Pasttime: A Review of Baseball History. 28, 35-39.

Presentations and Papers

May 2016:  Language Resources and Evaluation Conference, Portoroz, Slovenia.  "Examining Variation in the Absence of a "Main" ASL Corpus:  The Case of the Philadelphia Signs Project"  

September 2011-2012: University of Pennsylvania Medical School: Deaf Culture Doctor-Patient Awareness. Presentation on Deaf culture and communicating with Deaf patients in medical settings given to all first-year medical students and selected medical faculty. Topics discussed: Deaf cultural tendencies and differences as relevant to medical and healthcare professionals; communication strategies; interpreter interactions and obligations.

June 2007- June 2012 : University of Pennsylvania: Deaf Culture/ASL Awareness presentation to Pediatric Oncology/Critical Care Nurse Practitioners. Annual presentation given to expand cultural and practical awareness of deaf people in a medical setting. Topics of presentation and discussion: Deaf cultural differences, controversies among and related to d/Deaf people, language acquisition and development, issues to be aware of when working with Deaf patients (or patients with Deaf family members). Included facts on culture, law, and Medical ASL terminology.  

April 2012: University of Pennsylvania, 60-Second Lecture: American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, and Deaf Gain: Benefits for All: 60-second lecture presented to current Penn community and prospective students and families. 

February 2010-2012: University of Pennsylvania: Deaf Culture as it relates to Cochlear Implant/Bioengineering Technologies. Guest lecturer to BE 225, Engineering and Technology in Medicine. Presentation and interactive discussion covering Deaf culture and its affect by Cochlear Implant and other bioengineering technologies.

February 2012: University of Pennsylvania, Research Poster Session: Presentation to prospective graduate students. Poster topic centered on a phenomenological study on ASL students’ border and boundary crossing and maintenance in Deaf community settings. 

December 2011: Phenomenological study on ASL students’ border and boundary crossing and maintenance in Deaf community settings.

October 2011: University of Pennsylvania, Preceptorial on ASL and Deaf Culture: Presented a workshop on American Sign Language and topics of interest pertinent to American Deaf Culture and Deaf history. Facilitated discussions based on previously assigned readings and topics and issues presented during the lectures. 

May 2011: Borough of Manhattan Community College: Conference on Language, Culture, and Society: “Who is Gallaudet? Trends in and Reactions to the Traditional and Typical Deaf Experiences” Recent public confrontations between deaf and hearing students at traditionally deaf-serving Gallaudet University have brought the deaf-centered language and culture dyad and fears of its devolution or loss into the forefront of deaf educational and cultural discussions. Micro and macro educational, linguistic, and cultural implications of a shifting deaf experience are explored vis-à-vis the deaf-hearing tensions at Gallaudet and beyond. 

November 2009-2011: University of Pennsylvania Medical School: Deaf Culture/ASL Awareness presentation to first-year Medical students: Recurring presentation for Medical students learning ASL. Follows same topics as similar medical awareness presentation for nurse practitioner students, with amendments made for applications for future physicians.

October 2010: University of Pennsylvania: Deaf Culture/ASL Awareness for Temple University Medical students.: Presentation for Medical students learning ASL. Follows same topics as similarmedical awareness presentation for nurse practitioner students, with amendments made for applications for future physicians.

March 2010: CIBER Business Language Conference: The Emerging International and Domestic Deaf Markets: A New Program of Study for Business Language Teaching and Service-Learning Projects. Co-presentation with Miriam Grottanelli de Santi, Director of Siena School for Liberal Arts. Presentation to business language audience elucidating details on a program for American and international Deaf cultural opportunities for applied business/service-learning education in a study-abroad, immersion setting. 

February 2010: University of Pennsylvania: Deaf Culture as it relates to Societal Constructions of d/Deafness. Guest lecturer to Disability Narratives course taught by Dr. Heather Love, Department of English. Presentation and interactive discussion covering Deaf culture and its interface with societal constructions of deafness as disability.

March-April 2008: University of Pennsylvania, Preceptorial on ASL and Deaf Culture: Expanded on the previous two-session preceptorial to a 3-session workshop on American Sign Language and topics of interest pertinent to American Deaf Culture and Deaf education. Facilitated discussions based on previously-assigned readings and topics and issues presented during the lectures. 

March 2008: New York City, NECTFL. “The Shift in Learning Paradigms: The Intersection of Virtual, Collaborative, Authentic, and Online Learning Environments.” Co-presenter. Recent developments in technology have created greater opportunities for incorporating virtual, collaborative, authentic and online learning into the curriculum. Our examples from ASL, French and German demonstrated how technologies such as Chats, Wimba, Elluminate, Podcasts, and video recording can be used to both complement traditional classroom activities and extend them to newer levels of reflection and interaction beyond the classroom. An overview of the theoretical and pedagogical implications of online learning environments and computer-mediated communication with regards to teacher and learner roles, learner autonomy, collaborative learning and co-construction, data-driven learning, and authenticity presented.

November 2007: University of Pennsylvania, Preceptorial on ASL and Deaf Culture: Presented a two-session long workshop on American Sign Language and topics of interest pertinent to American Deaf Culture. Facilitated discussions based on previously-assigned readings and topics and lecture materials.

September 2007: University of Pennsylvania, New Student Orientation Proseminar on ASL and Deaf Culture: Introduction to American Sign Language and discussion of foundational ideologies, issues, and controversies related to deafness and Deaf culture. 

June 2007: Tufts University, IALLT. “The Shift in Learning Paradigms: The Intersection of Virtual, Collaborative, Authentic, and Online Learning Environments.” Invited presentation, Co- presenter. Presented similar material as March 2008 NECTFL Conference, with added updates to data and outcomes. 

February 2006: PLC Grants Showcase Participant Presented the details, results, and pedagogical implications of my grant work for the ASL BlackBoard Course grant.

May 2006: PA-American Sign Language Teachers Association Workshop— “PSE HABIT, FINISH,” Discussion of minimizing first language (English) interference in (L2) ASL production for an ASL instructor and interpreter audience. Presentation included topics on ASL grammar, pedagogy, and linguistics to provide perspectives on ASL production and instruction.

April 2006 Northeast Association for Language Learning and Teaching conference--ASL Digital Recording Booth Presentation on a collaboration between the ASL Program/Penn Language Center and Multi-Media Services to enable both instructors and students in creating more meaningful assessments and projects in ASL. The presentation incorporated a demonstration of equipment use and procedures as well as discussion of the pedagogical implications of the availability of such technology.

Other Professional Experience

September 2010: Reviewer for National ASL Standards: Reviewed and provided feedback to National ASL Standards developed by the National American Sign Language Teachers Association in accordance with the ACTFL guidelines for foreign language teaching and learning.

January, August 2010: ASL Photo Model and Native Signer Consultant: Served as model for several photos and gave detailed feedback and explanations for sign choices and variations to Dr. Donna Jo Napoli (Swarthmore College) and Dr. Rachel Sutton-Spence (University of Bristol) for their paper titled, “Word Order in Sign Languages” to be published in Sign language. An international handbook (HSK - Handbooks of linguistics and communication science), ed. by Roland Pfau, Markus Steinbach & Bencie Woll. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 

March 2009: ASL/Educational Consultant for the film, Universal Signs. Developed lesson plans for K-12 and university discussions and assessments of the film, Universal Signs.

January 2008: External Curriculum and Program Reviewer at Montgomery College, Rockville, MD Conducted an on-site visit of the American Sign Language Program. Met with Vice Provost, academic deans, ASL and World Languages Program Coordinators, instructors, and students, reviewed program scope and sequence, curricular materials, and Program course sequencing in the college catalogue to make recommendations for programmatic reform.

Courses Taught: 
  • LING 071--Introduction to ASL
  • LING 073--Intermediate ASL, Part I
  • LING 078--Deaf Culture
  • LING 077--Academically Based Community Service in ASL/Deaf Studies
  • LING 247--Structure of ASL
Other Affiliations: 
  • Fall 2005-present:  University of Pennsylviania, Member of the Language Advisory Committee.
  • December 2007:  Served on the Grants Committee for the PLC Language Teaching Innovation Grants.
  • August 2005-Present: Member of the national American Sign Language Teachers’ Association— ASLTA Certified ASL Instructor
  • January 2006-Present: Serve on the board of the PA-ASLTA (ASL Teachers Association) as the Professional Development Chair.  Responsible for recruiting presenters and organizing professional development events and conferences for ASL teachers in Pennsylvania.  Also advise on K-12 educational issues related to ASL.
  • Pennsylvania State Department of Education consultant for ASL teaching in K-12 settings.  Currently working on behalf of PA-ASLTA to create and implement certification criteria for potential ASL teachers in K-12 settings.
  • Serve on the advisory committee for the American Sign Language program at Community College of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh).