Adonia K. Smith

President of ASL Rose

Adonia Karren Smith, alumna of Georgia School for the Deaf, earned her B.A. in Elementary Education and M.A. in Deaf Education from Gallaudet University, and her Ed.D. in Deaf Education/Deaf Studies at Lamar University—the first GSD graduate to earn a doctorate. She’s a veteran teacher of Deaf students, who all too often have been denied access to ASL-fluent teachers. Her most recent stint was in Frances Hazel Reid Elementary in Leesburg, Virginia. She is one of a rare species—Deaf ASL-fluent teachers with doctorates. Her advocacy is a natural outgrowth of her experience as a teacher.

Smith has been actively involved in teaching, not only on an elementary-school level, but also working with college students. She served as Associate Professor in the Department of Deaf Education at Lamar University, Adjunct Instructor in McDaniel College's Department of Deaf Education/Deaf Studies.

Smith and E. Lynn Jacobowitz co-founded ASL Rose in April 2004; Smith is now the sole owner. ASL Rose is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Says Smith, “ASL Rose is a very Deaf-centric company that not only is a strong advocate of ASL and English Bilingualism, but publishes and provides ASL-English bilingual-bicultural materials and teacher-education workshops. I believe strongly that all deaf students have a right to education taught in their own native language, and that they have the right to know their culture, their history, and their rights as Deaf people. ASL Rose is supportive of this, and makes it possible for both the teachers and students to have materials they need.

“From 1996 through 2000, I taught first-graders at Alabama School for the Deaf. One of the activities that I did with my students was Beau Gardner’s Have You Ever Seen…? An ABC Book. It includes pictures that symbolize each letter of the alphabet, such as an alligator wearing antlers for the letter A. During the activity, I found myself struggling to keep my students engaged. At one point, one young girl said excitedly, “I know! A is LOVE, WITH, and EVERYDAY!” While those words were not the correct answers for the letter A, they were actually the right answers for the handshape A.

“I went home that night feeling despondent, thinking that I had failed as a teacher. The next day, however, I decided to try something new. I asked students to list all of the words associated with the handshape A. They started throwing out answers, and the activity went on so long that I had to ask them to stop. At the end of the activity, I was overwhelmed by the significant difference between the number of words they listed for the ABC activity and the handshape activity. This, I felt, was where young students should begin: working, playing, and identifying with ASL handshapes to easily and naturally expand their vocabulary, as opposed to rote memorizing of ‘the 26-letter word.’”

Dr. Jacobowitz was working as a professor at Gallaudet University, and serving as the chair of the American Sign Language Teachers Association’s (ASLTA) National American Sign Language Curriculum Project and ASLTA Legislation. During her term as president (1995-1998), the members of the National ASLTA Curriculum Project developed a skeletal curricula for Deaf ASL speakers and English speakers. The curriculum for English speakers was completed with a list of potential materials, text books, and videos. The curriculum for Deaf ASL speakers was not released due to a lack of availability of suitable materials, textbooks, and videos. It was this lack of resources that led Dr. Jacobowitz to realize that there was a great need for materials developed specifically for native ASL users.

The seeds of ASL Rose were planted in April 2001, when Smith and Jacobowitz attended the Deaf Studies VII Conference in Orlando. So on that historic day in April, the two met and put their heads together to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a book/DVD project that would incorporate ASL and Deaf studies. Those seeds blossomed into their very first product: Have You Ever Seen . . .? An American Sign Language (ASL) Handshape DVD/Book, and other projects that are currently in the works. Have You Ever Seen . . .? focuses on playing with visually rhyming handshapes. (There’s an accompanying curriculum.) It’s designed specifically for Deaf children, but can be enjoyed by anyone, adults included.

ASL Rose not only publishes children’s fun books and their multimedia formats, but has been actively involved in education, presentations, and advocacy.

This is a battle that’s won one mind at a time, one child at a time. Smith is especially proud of ASL Rose’s participation in a life-changing decision. “In December 2013, a Deaf man, Jia Zhang, contacted ASL Rose asking for help in trying to convince his company to approve his job transfer from New Mexico to Texas so that he could secure a bilingual-bicultural education for his Deaf children. The company refused, saying that they needed a letter from a professional saying that his children needed services and education that couldn’t be obtained in New Mexico’s public schools. ASL Rose gladly came to the rescue and wrote a letter on Jia Zhang’s behalf, explaining the benefits of bilingual-bicultural education vs. public school/mainstreaming education. ASL Rose was thrilled to hear that Jia Zhang’s company approved the job transfer, and he could now move to Austin, Texas, in February 2013.

“This is what ASL Rose does!”

She continues to travel nationally and abroad, giving presentations on Laurasia, bilingualism, language access, and Deaf culture. ASL Rose has several new projects in the progress. Coming up: several new children’s books and their multimedia formats, including a Deaf Cinderella, and more Have You Ever Seen . . .?

Long may the ASL Rose garden bloom!

Deaf Person of the Year
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2018
January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018
Roberta Cordano TabPhoto Amanada Folendorf TabPhoto Sonya Smith TabPhoto Lauren Ridloff TabPhoto Julian Moiwai TabPhoto Joshua Castille TabPhoto
July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018
Rebecca Giuntoli TabPhoto
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2017
January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017
July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2016
January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016
July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2015
January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015
July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2014
January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014
July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2013
January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013
July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2012
January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012
July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2011
January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011
July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2010
January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010
July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2009
January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009
July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2008
January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008
July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2007
January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007
July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007

Site Terms | Contacts | Advertising | Privacy Policy

Any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns you’d like to share?  Contact us at
Copyright © 2007 - 2018 MSM Productions Ltd. All Rights Reserved.