Professional Portfolio

My Personal ASL Portfolio

Tyler Woodbridge Burton

Hello, my name is Tyler and I am currently attending Gardner-Webb University. I am very interested in both American Sign Language, and Deaf Culture as a whole. I started taking sign language classes in high school and enjoyed all my experience with the language. Following high school, I was accepted to attend Gardner-Webb in August of 2013. After my first year in the ASL program I was accepted into my major along with a minor in ASL/English Interpreting. I have volunteered as a Lab Assistant and also completed the first of my two one-hundred hour internships. I interned for both Signs2Go Interpreting (Fort Worth, TX) and Clarity Language Access (Shelby, NC). I am currently employed by Clarity as well. My goal is to graduate in December of 2016, attend law school, and become an attorney for Deaf individuals.

Professional Goals and Interpreting Philosophy

Professional Goals:

After graduating from Gardner-Webb University, my goal is to attend law school. I am looking at programs mainly in North Carolina and Virginia. I plan on working for an interpreting agency while going to graduate school. When I complete law school my hope is to enter a practice that handles civil rights and disability rights cases for Deaf individuals.

Interpreting Philosophy:

I believe that interpreting is a skilled profession which requires advanced levels of education and practical skill. An interpreter facilitates communication, bridges significant cultural gaps, and uses relevant information to give meaning and understanding to their clients. Their clients being people who are Deaf, hearing, and an array of other individuals who require/request interpreting services.

My Resume

School Address

110 S. Main Street Box 5652

Boiling Springs, North Carolina 28017


· ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Gardner-Webb University- Bachelor of Arts degree in ASL

To be awarded December 2016

o Major: American Sign Language

o Minor: American Sign Language Interpreting

o Cumulative GPA: 3.5


· ASL Interpreting Internship, Clarity Language Access; Shelby NC

· Signs2Go Interpreting; Fort Worth TX – Fall 2015 to Summer 2015

o One-hundred total hours of interpreting experience (Grade A-)

o Special focus on educational interpreting and team interpreting

o Personal one on one training in voicing and hands up skills

· ASL Club Treasurer, Gardner Webb University; Boiling Springs NC – Fall 2014 to Current

o Keeping account of funds and budgeting

o Attending weekly meetings with the board to give input and direction

o Planning and attending weekly meetings with members

o Participating in club activities such as community Deaf events in the area

· ASL Lab Assistant, Gardner Webb University; Boiling Springs NC – Spring 2014

o Lesson planning and teaching skills

o Instructing ten students once a week in American Sign Language

o Reporting and documentation to the Lab Coordinator

Qualifications and Skills

· ­­­­­­Computer Skills: MS word, PowerPoint, Excel; typing/formatting/computer knowledge

· Bilingual: English, and American Sign Language

· Leadership: Leadership roles, strong leadership skills, and able to manage tasks

· Communication: Speeches, presentations, written, and with other people

· Interpersonal Skills: Working with other team members, serving customers, friendly, and energetic

Learning Skills: Engaged in activities, improving my education, ready to develop new skills

Awards and Activities

· Awards

o Honor Roll list: Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014

o Scholastic Award Winner: Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

o Grapevine Southlake Soccer Association Scholarship Award Winner: Fall 2013, Spring 2014

o NCFCA National Lincoln Douglas Debate Champion: Summer 2012

· Activities

o Attend a required forty-five hours of community Deaf events a semester

o Broad River Greenway Enchanted Forest Community Volunteer Event

o American Sign Language Lab Assistant

o ASL Club board officer and member

o Intermural Sports Team Captain (Volleyball and Soccer)


Academic Reference:

Cathleen J. Ciesielski, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Biology

Gardner-Webb University

P.O. Box 7270

Boiling Springs, North Carolina 28017


Employment Reference:

Mr. Terry Hill - General Manager/Catering Manager

The King’s Café at Kings University (Gateway Church)

2121 Southlake Blvd.

Southlake, Texas 76092

817-552-7354 or 817-305-1277 or

Character Reference:

Mrs. Kim Cromer - Regional Coordinator and Executive Board of Directors

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association

9075 River Crescent

Suffolk, Virginia 23433


ASL Department Reference:

Dr. Mary High - Director of the Gardner Webb University ASL Program

(704) 406-4418

My Interpreting Videos

My Workshop Certificates

My Business Card

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Portfolio Files

Research Paper Example - Numbering in ASL

A Research Paper on the Topic of Numbering in American Sign Language

By Tyler Burton

April 21, 2015

Linguistics of America Sign Language

Course #SGLG 407

Instructor: Robert N. Moore

American Sign Language (ASL) includes a vast amount of phonological and morphological inquiry. The ways in which signs are structured, the specific arrangement of phrases, and even the ways in which parts of language are studied and contrasted can all be identified. Whether you are focusing on classifiers, individual signs, or a temporal aspect, these can be categorized and synthesized into understandable information. Rather than tackling a broad range of linguistic topics however, this essay with attempt to focus on one facet within the language. Specifically, the area of numbering in ASL. Whereas some who hear the topic briefly may think of mere numbers being quite simple, there are numerous fields of knowledge to cover. ASL numbering includes more than just cardinal numbers, although they are important as well. Numbers have many uses in ASL, including, showing superiority, remarking a certain amount of time, and displaying the immediacy or importance of an issue. On top of that, there are several rules of the language that account for standardized production. Correct palm orientation, and a comprehension of morphemes would be a couple to name. Therefore, it is important to discuss numbering in its very basic forms and then expound on that into its deepest potential within the language. Thus, an array of numbering principles should be noted; the use of numbers, ranking, number agreement, numerical incorporation, number stories, and number classifiers will all be addressed, as well as other topics worth attention too.

In order to understand numbering in ASL, there are basics and principles when it comes to numbers. Cardinal numbers and ordinals numbers are two important topics. Cardinal numbers are used for counting. For example, if I have 5 apples, the five is a representation of a cardinal number. Conversely, an ordinal number represents an order or has a temporal connotation. An example of this would be a competitor coming in 4th place, or an event happening in the 16th century. Knowing the difference between these two types of numbers establishes a strong foundation for understanding the application of numbers within the language. On top of this, ASL also has what many call “parameters”. ASL has five parameters: handshape, movement, location, palm orientation, and nonmanual markers. Three of these are seen when formulating either cardinal or ordinal numbers. Specifically, palm orientation is imperative to cardinal numbers. Depending on whether a signer is counting one through ten, or presenting an abstract number within a sentence, the palm orientation will change from toward the signer, compared to away from the signer. This is contingent on the situation. For ordinal numbers, there may be an addition of handshape, movement, or palm orientation. When listing or ranking, the signer’s handshape may change. If the signer is marking the place of someone in a race, they would add movement to the number. Also, say you are reading a book and begin in the third chapter, in order to sign third, the palm orientation of the sign is altered. These examples show how parameters apply to both cardinal and ordinal numbers. Thus, when observing just the basic numbering structures in ASL, one can notice the depth and precision in ensuring the accurate production of the language.

Something mentioned earlier which is significant to expound on more, is the notion of ranking and listing in ASL. These fall under that category of ordinal numbers. First, ranking in ASL displays the importance of one entity over another. There are two practical applications of this. Say a family has three brothers, how would an ASL user represent this concept? Using the three handshape, they would list the order of each brother from oldest to youngest; starting at the thumb and moving towards the middle finger. This downward movement shows a declining regression of age between the brothers. Next, say there was a race between three competitors. In ASL, a signer wouldn’t use the three handshape this time. Conversely, using space, “FIRST-PLACE” would be a twisted one towards the top of their signing space, “SECOND-PLACE” would be a twisted two below where first was, and “THIRD-PLACE” would be a twisted three below where second was. While different, the same applies; the downward movement of regression shows the place of each racer with a signed and visual image. Ranking in ASL is heavily dependent on numbering and space to accurately denote the appropriate message. Listing is similar to ranking, but it does have its differences. Listing is non-order specific. This means that listing is more general and more broadly used when compared to ranking. This also means that when using numbers in listing, those numbers are not purely specific either. An example of this would be a grocery list. If a person has six items on their list, there is an ASL equivalent for that. Signing the six items, a signer would have the six handshape to begin with. Each item would be represented one finger individually. The signer would start at the thumb and continue each item towards the pinky. When they reached the sixth thing on the list, the signer would use the six handshape, and pointing to the place where the thumb and the pinky meet would symbolize the last entry on the list. The difference between ranking and listing is that rank has an exact order that must be followed. Listing though, is not dependent on this specificity. Knowing this variance draws the line between listing what someone is talking about, as opposed to placing them in rank and order.

Advancing from these topics, number agreement is another principle worth covering. In relation to nouns and verbs, the number always has to match. If there are numerous subjects, the number classifier or the reference to the subjects has to equal that. Vice versa, if there is more than one action taking place, the number associated has to be the same. For example, consider there being four people in a room. If one of the individuals suggest that they all leave to go eat a meal, he might suggest that “the four of them” leave. This displayed in ASL would incorporate the number four, facing up, circled around towards each members of the group. That number four is an agreement with the number of people in the room at that time. However, with this understood, there are limitations. Wendy Sandler and Diane Lillo-Martin say in their book, Sign Language and Linguistic Universals that, “if both the subject and object are plural, the verb is inflected only for plural object; the subject’s plurality must be marked in a different way. These constraints can simply be stated as part of the morphological process of agreement.” This morphological process of agreement makes sure that when adding numbers to concepts or signs, those numbers agree (do not conflict) with the idea that has already been presented. Even more so, there are three categories of number inflection. Dual inflection, exhaustive inflection, and multiple inflection are those three. Dual infection is when two units are being referred to. For numbers to be agreeable, these units must remain separate and clear. Next, exhaustive inflection is a repeated inflection. This is where there are more than three individual units of reference. Lastly, multiple inflection can be thought of in a situation involving a group of people. There is more than one unit, however, that unit can be referenced to in general rather than specific parts on their own. Appling an example of number agreement in terms of a verb would go like this. If a man gave to three different charities in one year, each charity would be set up in space if described in ASL. For the verb to match/agree with the number of charities, the signer would sign “GIVE” three times, once to each area of space associated with each individual charity. Even more so, Sandler and Lillo-Martin add that there is a solution to the previous constraints. “Faced with such a situation, experienced but not novice signers will choose any of several alternatives, which might include changing hand dominance for the sign, or dropping the subject agreement and marking the object agreement only.” Number agreement is an essential part of ASL. Losing this agreement can result in confusion and a loss of correct grammar structures. This is not what the signer would be aiming for. As a result, agreement is essential in producing a clear and accurate message in ASL.

Building on the idea of number agreement, number incorporation is the logical next step. Once a signer understands how to correctly use numbers, then comes the morphological connection to using them within signs. Numerical incorporation is when you take a base sign and add a number handshape in order to alter the meaning of that sign. For instance, if you take the ASL sign “MONTH”, it has its own individual meaning. However, say you use a two handshape for your dominant hand within the sign for month. This would be “incorporating” a number into the structure of a sign that already has meaning. The new sign now means “two-months”. It is important to understand that numerical incorporation always changes the meaning of the original sign. Breaking this down further, research refers to the units as bound morphemes and free morphemes. The sign “MONTH” is a free morpheme which means that it has meaning on its own. “MONTH” can be understood as its own concept and idea. However, the handshape “TWO” by itself, has no specific meaning. “TWO” is not related to anything on its own. As a result, “TWO” would be referred to as a bound morpheme, meaning that it is dependent on other morphemes, and alone has no meaning. Connecting a bound morpheme to a free morpheme in order to express a conception is a regular and natural form used in ASL. Numerical incorporation does have its limits though. ASL is a free and natural feeling language. Signs are confined to a specific amount of space, and they tend not to strain the user or look awkward to an observer. This is the case with using numbers. There is a limit to incorporating numbers because of this. Usually numbers above ten are difficult to incorporate and thus are left out. With instances like these, the unit of meaning is noted, and then the number follows; i.e. MONTHS ELEVEN. There are an array of categories when using numbers. Time, ranking, size, and monetary value are just a few. Each section has its own limitation on the highest number that can be incorporated. Most often one through nine is used like in the case of dollars: a twisted one through nine is used without the need to sign “DOLLARS” afterwards. However, there are variations. For example, age signs have no limit; “AGE-55” is a perfectly acceptable number incorporation in ASL. The 2011, Linguistics of American Sign Language book sums this up well when it says that “what is important to understand is that the segmental structure… and the location, orientation, and nonmanual signal of each one does not change. All of those parts consist of one morpheme that communicates the main topic. The handshape does change to indicate the specific quantity being discussed.” This points to the face that the application of number incorporation is a unique nuisance of ASL.

Next, a signer can use number classifiers in order to use numbers as a representation. There are also “non-specific number” classifiers, however that is beyond the point and goal of the research at hand. Number classifiers help in identifying the number of objects/people in a dialogue. These classifiers are non-gender specific and show plurality. The most basic use is to show duality (meaning only two). This can be accomplished by using both hands or by using two fingers on your dominant hand. If there are two women facing each other talking, you can use both of your index fingers on each hand to demonstrate this concept in ASL. Using one index finger is associated with the number one. On the other hand, if you have two women standing beside each other, one need only to use their dominant hand. Using the index and middle finger for the number classifier two gives duality to the meaning. Sign Language and Linguistic Universals also explains this concept in that “…numerals (obligatorily) concatenate with a certain morpheme, which is the so-called ‘classifier’. This morpheme classifies and quantifies the respective nominal referent according to semantic criteria… Numeral classifiers are different from verbal classifiers in that they are obligatory, they always occur with numerals or quantifiers, and their classificatory function is the most salient one.” Expounding from this idea, duality is not the only option when it comes to number classifiers. Whereas five tends to be the maximum number classifier in most situations, there are a few examples of where a number higher than five can be used as a classifier. Say someone wants to talk about four generic people in a group. That person would use the number four and place it wherever the group was being talked about in the space that was given. Consequently, what is necessary is to assign meaning to the classifier that is being used. If a signer randomly holds out the number four without any explanation, it plainly has no meaning. For a number classifier to be understood, it must be used correctly and clarified within the context of the conversation.

Contained in the topic of number incorporation is incorporation based on the intensity of the sign. Once you have a number classifier, you can build upon its meaning and its use in ASL. Since incorporation has already been covered, it is beneficial to realize the study doesn’t end there. Once a signer incorporates a number into a sign, they can add intensity, or verbal inflection to that sign. Using the previous example, let’s say there is a group of four people, but this time they are approaching the signer. The number classifier (talked about previously), “4-PEOPLE-APPROACH” would be used in this scenario. The way intensity works, is that it shows the direction, movement and speed of the four people. If they approach in a slow, mundane manor, the handshape might be bounced slowly toward the signer. However, say a celebrity is walking down the street and a group of four fans rushes over in excitement. This would be represented with the same handshape, but it would be quickly moved toward the signer with the possibility of wiggling the fingers to show that excitement. Here direction and speed are incorporated into the intensity. Adding on even more, the direction can be given. If the group of fans ran over from across the street, it would look different than if they had just exited a restaurant and seen the celebrity. Therefore, it is essential to understand that not only the number is important and that it can be incorporated, but that there are other factors as well which affect the number and the overall meaning associated with it. Number incorporation based on intensity shows an advanced knowledge and ability in ASL.

A particularly entertaining form of ASL that uses numbers is an ASL number story. Deaf News Network said that “One of the fun and special traditions enjoyed and shared by the Deaf Community is signing stories using Number... In these stories, various hand shapes do not stand for the numbers… themselves, but are used as signs or gestures to convey concepts.” Number stories in ASL are widely told in the Deaf Community. These stories can be short in length, or relatively long. Their length and purpose is solely based on the story teller. Fundamental ASL syntax is not rigidly followed in its form in order for the story to be manipulated to the signers will. The teller may alter phonological aspects in aims to make the story comprehendible. A sort of “morphology” is used to build new signs as well (although they are not really new signs, they just appear to be made up). Take for instance the sign “LATER”. If the signer’s story includes the number twenty-one, they can alter the handshape production slightly in order for the sign “LATER” to look like the number twenty-one. “TWENTY-ONE” in the story then becomes associated with the meaning of “later”. Sometimes, the sign does not even have to be changed. Take the number eleven, and ASL sign for “UNDERSTAND”. “UNDERSTAND” already has the same handshape and movement of the number eleven and can be easily incorporated into a number story. A short example of a number story would be the ASL sentence “I SAW THIRTY-FOUR WOMEN”. Numbers one through five are used to tell what happened. English in comparison is quite different. In order to use a number the phonetics are dissimilar. English stories may be able to “play on words”, but ASL stories can “play on signs” as well as “play on numbers”. Entire stories can be comprised of numbers in ASL, but nothing like that is seen in English. Although the history of number stories is not quite clear, they are an integral part of Deaf heritage. Linguistics of American Sign Language points out that “After several repetitions, the audience members finally understand what the narrator was trying to tell them about the hidden numbers and they nod ‘got it!’. Stories can also be created with A-to-Z handshapes and numerical handshapes together.” Using number to tell stories captures the attention of many and is just another example of how numbers are used in ASL every day.

Finally, the last topic that is vital to cover is that of numbers and their use as individual symbols. Sandler and Lillo-Martin note in their book that “numbers and fingerspelling are excluded from these generalizations. In numbers, each finger is an icon or a symbol for a digit, so that the finger combinations are arithmetic rather than linguistic.” This concept shows a disassociation between numbers and their linguistic element. While number are used to convey ideas in ASL, those ideas are mathematical rather than strictly for language purposes. This is better explicated as purely a representation of something else, rather than a natural form occurring only in the language at hand. Numbers expand over an array of languages and is not excluded to ASL. In order to present numbers (as an agreeable and universal “language” of sorts) ASL uses a variety of methods. First, a signer can count on their hands to represent a number. Next, a signer can also use signs associated with a numerical meaning such as “million” or “billion”. These are mathematical concepts that have been formed into the phonological process of creating an ASL meaning. Even more, an ASL signer can use space to complete or represent different math equations. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing are all principles used in space to define arithmetic concepts across the language. These three ways (number, sign, and space) are the main ones by means of number or number association in ASL. Thus, it is true that numbers are individual symbols with separate meanings. Keeping this in mind helps one comprehend the linguistic use and application of numbers.

Overall, there are so many ways that American Sign Language uses numbers. Native users and new users alike can familiarize themselves with these numerical practices. Numbering is truly a huge part of natural ASL production. From grammatical structures to entertaining stories, numbers are highly incorporated and very necessary. Numbering also covers all the parameters of ASL. Movement is used to show intensity or representation of a number. A handshape can be altered to create new meaning in a number story. The location of a number coupled with a sign can point to a specific amount of time. Palm orientation is important to know when working with cardinal and ordinal numbers. Lastly, non-manual markers can be incorporated or must be “agreeable” with the number in context. On top of that, numbers apply greatly to the area of linguistics. Numbers and their phonological impact can be analyzed and broken down into their specific parts. The phonological process of numbers can be seen in numerical incorporation as well. The morphological and syntactic areas that numbers affect applies toward building on bound and free morphemes and how they are arranged within the meaning of a sentence. To add, the semantic use of numbers can be applied to a user of ASL in how numbers actually play out in formal and informal conversation. Numbering in American Sign Language really has a vast range of information within. Thus, it is important to take away from this the significance of numbering and then relate that ability to use numbering correctly and intelligently from this point forward.


Bar-Tzur, David. ASL Number Systems in Technical Discourse. The Interpreters Friend,

1999. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

Cartwright, Brenda E. and Bahleda, Sullen J. Numbering in American Sign Language.

Alexandria: Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, INC., 2003. Print.

Deaf News Network. ASL (American Sign Language) Number Story. 20 July. 2007. Web. 20

April 2015.

Hahm, Hyun-Jong. Person and Number Agreement in American Sign Language. The

University of Texas at Austin, 2006. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

Hoemann, Harry W. Communicating with Deaf People. Baltimore: University Park Press,

1978. Print.

Lapiak, Jolanta. Numeral Incorporation in Sign Language. Hand Speak, 2015. Web. 18 Feb.


Parisot, Anne-Marie. Number Agreement in a Sign Language. University of Quebec at

Montreal, 2009. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

Sandler, Wendy and Lillo-Martin, Diane. Sign Language and Linguistic Universals.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.

Valli, Clayton et al. Linguistics of American Sign Language: An Introduction. 5th ed.

Washington: Gallaudet University Press, 2011. Print.

Personal Experience Reflection: My First Internship

Honestly, going into an internship for the first time was a scary thought. I had no idea what to expect and a difficult time trying to figure out where to start. I ended up contacting local interpreting agencies back at home in Texas. By the third phone call, I had an internship all set up. It was crazy to me how quickly the process went. I was looking forward to the summer and my internship with Signs2Go interpreting. The first two months back home over the summer were very slow. I did not get my first assignment until the last part of June. I really worried about actually finishing my 100 hours. Over the course of July I got a few more assignments, but still not enough. August came and I had about fifty hours - I had no idea what to do. I ended up observing a 20 hour Methodist conference which was interpreted in ASL. This was one of the neatest experiences ever. I learned so much from those observation hours. Ultimately, I had to finish my internship hours back in North Carolina. A local interpreting agency (Clarity Language Access) offered to help me with those hours. I spent about half of this semester interpreting a community college ASL class and also an adult continuing education Microsoft Excel class. I loved the steady pace of having regular assignments each week. All in all, my internship experience was great. I observed and interpreted in so many different settings - union meetings, teacher conferences, driving safety programs, etc. I am looking forward to my second internship next semester.

Personal Experience Reflection: How Far I Have Come

Learning ASL has not been the easiest endeavor for me. Early on, my sign production was not on par with my peers and my language understanding was a bit slow. However, over the past two years, I can see amazing developments. I understand the language so much better and I am constantly learning more about Deaf culture as well. I think the thing I need to improve on the most is two fold. First, I would really like to be able to earn a passing score on the SLPI in February. I have struggled with this test, but really need to do well in order to graduate. Personally, I feel like it is harder to hold a conversation in ASL (for me) as compared to interpreting to words or signs of another person. Second, I am looking to put more time and effort into achieving certification. I would like to put more effort into my study for that and bettering my language production even more. When I look back at my academic progress, I see how far I have come. I really enjoy presentations now, and look forward to spending time in the language. I am definitely excited to learn even more.

Professional Membership

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