American Sign Language (ASL) Exchange

Emmanuel (Mani) García, Psychology
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Regina Miranda
NML Awards: The New Media Lab Digital Dissertation Award (April 2017), The History and Public Health Award (January 2016)

BOUT Mani Garcia (lead researcher) AND his RESEARCH

Below is a video in ASL (with closed captioning) where I introduce myself and my research. A transcript of the video is provided below the video.

Hi I’m Mani Garcia. My sign-name is the letter-M brushing down on my right eyebrow. I’m a 4th year PhD student at the City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College. I work in the Experimental Psychopathology Lab directed by Dr. Regina Miranda. My research is focused on finding ways to improve and promote the physical and mental health of Deaf community members by developing better assessment and treatment. I am focused on problems related to anxiety, depression, and stress. There is evidence that the Deaf community is impacted more negatively by the effects of anxiety, depression, and stress than hearing people (Fellinger, Holzinger, & Pollard, 2012) are. In addition, the small number of physical/mental health providers culturally and linguistically competent to serve the Deaf community leaves Deaf people with very few suitable options in a time of need (Cabral, Muhr, & Savegeau, 2013). This lack of suitable options has been tied to harmful cognitive, emotional, and social consequences for Deaf people. My research is focused on understanding potential solutions to the problems discussed in this video.


ASL Exchange LogoAmerican Sign Language (ASL) Exchange was founded as online platform to engage in clinical research/practice on Deaf mental health in collaboration with the Deaf Community—an approach considered best practice. Due to a dearth of health professionals and researchers who are fluent in ASL—and the cultural/linguistic minority status of the Deaf Community—physical/mental health literacy, capital, and best-practice is severely limited in the ASL Community.  To address these gaps the ASL Exchange is focused on engaging in best-practice clinical education, research, and cultural/linguistic adaptation efforts in collaboration with the ASL Community.

Mission Statement

The mission of the ASL Exchange is to help facilitate a sea change of increased access to physical/mental health education, assessment, and interventions for Deaf and deaf-blind individuals.

Guiding Values:

  • Do not assume value: create value.
  • Do not greet crisis with business as usual.
  • Flexibility gives creativity a life span.
  • Communication is paramount: work at it constantly.
  • Match attention with intention: this creates sustainable results.

ASL Exchange News

Video abstract: Deaf Studies research provides converging evidence that deaf people living in a hearing dominated world face lifelong language-related experiences and barriers that relate importantly to their mental health and well-being.  Though deaf people are different in many ways, shared language experiences, and challenges to mental health and well-being linked with those experiences, are an important and interesting context that hearing and deaf interpreters work within. One September 16, 2017, Lexington Mental Health Center and ASL Exchange are hosting a one-day symposium where deaf and hearing researchers, interpreters, psychologists, and community members will lead a discussion focused on exploring this topic more.  The symposium in entitled: “Language and Deaf Mental Health: Interpreting in Context.”  The symposium will include research presentations, a panel of deaf community members, and deaf-led breakout workgroups, focused on applying discussion points and determining community action items.

Sept 16, 2017 Symposium Flyer
Sept 16, 2017 Symposium Flyer
Image: Image from footage of a video of Ōshin R. Liam Jennings, deaf Zen Buddhist monk, wearing rakusu and samue. He is signing 'ATTENTIVE' in ASL.
Image: Image from footage of a video of Ōshin R. Liam Jennings, deaf Zen Buddhist monk, wearing rakusu and samue. He is signing ‘ATTENTIVE’ in ASL.

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Video transcript: “Hi, I’m Mani García-Lesy. My sign-name is the letter-M brushing down on my right eyebrow. I am a Doctoral Researcher at the City University of New York (CUNY)-Graduate Center. I conduct research in Psychology and work as a clinician (or therapist). I have also worked as a sign language interpreter for 26 years. Currently, I am completing my PhD research. My research is focused on communication difficulties. Deaf people are all too familiar with experiencing many forms communication difficulties (e.g. in interactions with hearing people; when captioning is not provided for a TV program, etc.) and a lack of access to communication—experiences that contribute to distress. I am interested in understanding the cumulative effects of communication difficulties on emotional distress, and how these relate to mental health outcomes for Deaf people. My research will involve conducting interviews focused on understanding Deaf people’s communication experiences, to help us understand these research questions better. As part of my research I also founded ASL Exchange, a web-based platform where I post vlogs, interviews with Deaf scientists, researchers, and psychologists, along with culturally affirmative resources in presented sign language. My goal is to contribute to the enhancement of our education as a community of Deaf people, interpreters, and hearing allies—promoting better mental health awareness and practice.”

This is the latest development in latest development an ongoing collaboration between ASL Exchange and the Center for Anxiety. NOTE: Captions and a transcript are being prepared for a video recorded version of the talk that will include captioning, a transcript and voice over. While that is being prepared we are releasing this unedited live stream, mimicking the live event. The lecture is in American Sign Language and voice interpreted into English.

Lecture slides can be obtained at this link: Lecture references can be obtained at this link:

ABSTRACT Early language experience is important for both setting children up on the path to fully acquire a language, and for ensuring access to information from others around them. However, many deaf children lack access to a language they can easily acquire. This lack of access is due to widespread misinformation about what language is, how it is acquired, and what we use it for. In this talk I will discuss the impacts of early language exposure on deaf children in both cognitive and social domains. I will also suggest ways that we can improve early language experiences to improve wellbeing in deaf children, adolescents and adults.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION Amber Martin, Ph.D. is a faculty member in the Hunter College Psychology Department—City University of New York— where she teaches courses in Child Development, Cognitive Processes, and Emotion (CLAS Lab- Dr. Amber Martin Hunter College). She received her B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development. She completed her post-doctoral studies at Barnard College where began her current work studying deaf children in Nicaragua. Her research focuses on the relations between developing language and cognition, and the impact of early language deprivation and delayed acquisition in deaf children. 9-29-17

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