Amy Cohen Efron tells a story about the famous “Blue Book” from American School for the Deaf. The “Blue Book” is titled A Dictionary of Idioms for the Deaf by Maxine Tull Boatner and John Edward Gates, and it was widely used in deaf education. ASD published and copyrighted this book in 1966, and reprinted by National Association of the Deaf in 1969. Now, what became of this book?

This videoclip is 9:48 minutes long.

POSTSCRIPT: (11:30 am EST Sunday, April 29, 2007) According to the source, American School for the Deaf is not selling this book anymore.

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31 comments on “Hoodwinked!

Very interesting! Fortunately for me, I have this book saved from my deaf school years. I use this as resource when I teach Idioms to Interpreters & Deaf Educators. The biggest complain I hear from them is that there are no specific resources on how to teach Idioms to Deaf children.

Thanks Amy for sharing such important information. 🙂

Hi Amy,

Great topic as always! Awesome about sharing your historical knowledge about the Blue Book. I have to admit that I have no idea who developed it and the history behind the book although I graduated from ASD ( was a student for only one year there, yes ironic!).

So the bottom line is…we had been robbed. This Makkai author was shrewd enough to take advantage of the Blue Book and made it into a hot money market industry where all the profits were raked in and apparently there was no share of commission given to the original creator. Hey, doesn’t this stand a chance for lawsuit? Were there any permission or release forms? I am just curious about what are the chances to reclaim the profit due to copyright laws.

It just made me so mad that the hard work, effort, and time dedicated by teachers and students at a school for the deaf were not given credit and that an outsider just “waltzed in” and “swiped” their material making it more possible for him to “line his pockets”.

On a different note, I have used this blue book everytime I teach my students during summer school since I get to teach language arts as opposed to only teaching social studies/deaf history during the year. However, in the past few years, I find myself using other materials that are much more related to bridging English to ASL (Kristin DiPerri’s workbooks such as Picture This, Visual Verbs) since it makes it much more visual for the students. I still use the blue book as a reference anyway since there are some idioms not included in DiPerri’s workbooks.

Wow … Should do something about the girl (name?) who typed and worked hard. Again we should honor Maxine Tull Boatner for doing this hard work for the Deaf students. The blue book should go to the NAD or ASD museum or something like that. Wow … not right. I am disappointed about this. Sigh

Had you an opportunity to talk to Makkai himself? Because if his response to your story and questions is hard-hearted uncaring about how his profits came about, it can be grounds for possible actions? What do you think? That is APPALLING!

Hmmm, just like Baby Signs. Folks are getting rich off us. Big loss for ASD. Apparently the teacher did not see to update ASD on this transition and ensure funds to go to the school. I assume certain state laws see that intellectual properties of the school should belongs to the school regardless of author’s invention since she used school resources and students for this book. I guess this is capitalism for ya, sucka. Morals’ out the window.


Dr. Makkai is currently a Professor Emertius at University of Illinois in Chicago. His webpages are: http://atlantis-centaur.org/ and http://www.uic.edu/depts/engl/faculty/prof/amakkai/bio.htm

As I said on my vlog, I have no idea how the partnership was formed between Maxine Boatner and another writer, John Edward Gates with Adam Makkai.

I am presenting information based on my observations. If anyone would like to take this as a part of investigation, go for it!

Dr. Makkai joined in 1975 with Boatner/Gates and somehow Barron’s took it over to reprint this book several times, until 1987 when Makkai was able to make revisions.

Remember, Dr. Makkai still credits Boatner and Gates in his 4th revision of Dictionary of American Idioms.

I wonder where did the profits go? Did profits go to the Boatner’s family? Or should this go to American School for the Deaf since it was copyrighted by ASD? Or was copyright laws had changed? Remember, in 1976, Congress entacted a new copyright laws. Things can change.

I am wondering — did American School for the Deaf know about this?

I am presenting information based on what I’ve researched and observed. I don’t investigate.

I sincerely hope someone out there will be willing to do some serious investigation.

Amy Cohen Efron

What can I say? Don’t let the blue book destroy! We all need to do something to make the lawsuit against the person who plagiarized the blue book. Who originally owns the blue book? Maxine?

I would have surprised that the NAD did not recognize the incident of that blue book (That was where the NAD took over in the past)

Oh what a filthy business……

White Ghost

Amy —

Thanks for the clarification.

As of the copyright laws in 1976, Did Dr. Makkai get the contract with the Barron’s in 1987? Let’s take the hardest look at the contract with the Barron’s and the partnership between Maxine Boatner and Mr Gates’ paperworks.

White Ghost

CLICK HERE to see a list of more than 400 libraries that have a copy of the Boatner/Gates “Blue Book.”


I remember saw a book, “A Dictionary on american idioms” once back in 1985’s (ish), and check throughout pages. I was surprised that the book did selling on deaf idioms that I didn’t aware of this. The blue book need to be preseved, keep it at the museum for the deaf history which is belongs to ASD.

My late elderly lady friend were graduated from America school for the deaf in Hartford, Conn. She had a good memories story about her school and history.

What a good observation, Amy! 🙂 To my surprise, I learn so much about the deaf history that I have missed out alot.

Good vlogging.

We better check out the latest and past federal copyright laws to ensure that the American School of the Deaf (ASD) get the royalty fees from the “Blue Book: Dictionary of Idioms for the Deaf”.

The ASD gal ought to receive commission for her “indentured servitude” which clearly exploit her WPM (typing) prowess.

Who have the full copyright to the Blue Book: A Dictionary of the Idioms for the Deaf? ? ASD or NAD???

We must do something to get the fair share of royalty fee from the intellectual property for the American School of the Deaf. NAD??

I never seen this Blue Book in my entire life. My language arts, Mr. Louis Boley, probably make the xeroxed copies of various pages from “A Dictionary of Idioms for the Deaf” at the WV School of the Deaf. Real shame on Mr. Boley for xerocopying the Blue Book and passed out various idiom pages.

I learned the idioms for very first time during my seventh grade like “cats and dogs rain”, etc. My language arts class got the grasp of variety of idioms pretty well. Many of us argued endlessly what such an illogical application to idiom itself.

Let’s shove the steel wool pad into Dr. Makkai’s rectum to make him understand our anger for what Makkai systematically exploit deaf people’s hardworking contributions to the existence of “A Dictionary of Idioms for the Deaf” from ASD students to ASD gal dutifully typed out idioms for book publishing.

Many thanks for sharing this vlog presentation with all of us! Could you please kindly make your vlog presentation to be possible in the “email forward” to my friends who hardly bother to check out the DeafRead.com.

I also am sick of foreigners coming to the U.S. to exploit our own resources for their own private gains. I really could not wait to see “Barron’s” to bend down herself to our demands for royalty fees and copyright issues.

Robert L. Mason (RLM)

Interesting discussion going on here as in your usualness. Makkai you were speaking of may have shared the royalties with Maxine Boatner under a publisher’s contract. Maybe the latter received less profit if the former expanded and may possibly bought the full rights. In 1987-1995, NWC purchased Makkai’s
dictionary from Gallaudet Bookstore.

The book I have at my desk is “Dictionary of American
Idioms and Phrasal Verbs” by Richard A. Spears
(McGraw-Hill, 2005, pages 1,080). It has more than
24,000 entries. Author of more than 150 books, Spears
abandoned his professorship of linguistics at Northwestern University to the editorial work.
Many idioms in the dictionary come from lines found in Shakespeare as well as from Oxford English Dictionary.

Developing books on idioms has become so demanding in the late 1960s at Georgetown University where I used to work as a librarian’s assistant. The demand was to meet Georgetown’s foreign students’s needs for their ESL.


I just found the blue book (First Edition),on the living room shelf. I remember getting the blue book from ASD that I graduated. There were a group of students that typed the materials. I remember that the teachers from different schools for the deaf got together to make the book. The project was supported, in part, by a research grant, number RD-1007, from the Vocational Rehabilitation Adminstration, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Wash.D.C. The book was copyright by American School for the Deaf (1966). The book was compiled and edited by Maxine Boatner and John Edward Gates. We, students had no clues where the money went or what happened to the ASD copyright. We should look into this.

I still had my own “blue book”, My former teacher used to teaching us (Grade 4 to Grade 5)in our classroom. Very good book also dictionary of Idioms helped us improved to understand everything what we learned. That teacher gave to me to own my “blue book” because she left my school due to divorce and quitting teaching. Grade 6 to Grade 12, I never had studying “blue book” in my school ever again. I was not surprised why it stopped, my english and literature, etc. not getting well do in my school (Sadly). I think that “blue book” every school must have one of these students, I am sure they will get intelligent skills and brain games to improve English, Literature, etc. To Educator like you and Barb DiGi, to others: Please teach these children that “blue book”, A must!

Another profound vlog by Amy Cohen-Efron! (I could almost imagine thriller music in the background. Wink) It was like a good mystery. Leaves us wanting more information and justice!

I liked learning how to sign “hoodwinked” in ASL. Thanks.

~ LaRonda

Wow. You’re brilliant! I have the Yellow book, 3rd edition. I remembered the blue and that belongs to my husband. Will check that out and compare with my yellow book. Very interesting. ASD should be earn part of the money that Makkai made. Wow. Now let’s ask ASD(American School for the Deaf) and find out what they have learned from your vlog! Thanks for helping us to open eyes what is out there.

WOW Amy….yet ANOTHER brilliant observation. Whew! I’ve forwarded this link to a friend at ASD….

This is a must read! Thanks for letting us all know. I surely REMEMBERED that book…during my high school days and also owned one.

Keep em coming!!!! xoxoxo

*drop my jaw* i never see that book in my life! but i heard elder people who is deaf they talk about BLUE BOOK i was not know what the hell they talk about. till now i found out about it. oh dang! that profit must go to ASD. i wondering if ASD have orignal book by girls typed book? if so that’s good thing , because it’s will show proved it’s BELONG TO ASD. no matter what if it’s late have copyright as u said it’s set 1986 too late for old books which don’t have copyright on it but STILL~! what different between FAMOUS Poe prints his poems as honor of him become popular wrote first of horror story ever! so we should ask that CO. to be honor name that book after her name “Maxine Boatner” which is first idea to made book. why not make her name shine as star it’s popular prints book so let them that book come from ASD it’s not for only hearing people who from other country want learn English Language it’s come from deaf first. why not someone make wrote deaf history add her in it? as have FAMOUS book of deaf people history for example: Hoy, Goya, and many famous deaf history in book as i read book before book title “Movers & Shakers Storybook” it’s best book i ever know to read about deaf history VERY INERESTING BOOK! as i don’t know that have deaf boxer, famous first girl scount deaf, first deaf mission in africa forget his name A.F. and FIRST deaf play baseball pro his name is William “Dummy” Hoy. why not add her in it she did idea that book so why not we add all DEAF HISTORY deep information which we are behind back news about deaf history. it’s importants for us. keep up with ur videoclips.

Joshua “Vampbat” Womick

I am puzzling about Maxine Tull Boatner! What’s wrong with her? She should have put the money to Deaf children and a group of Deaf girls who did worked so hard by typing the Blue Book!!! Now the other book stole the Blue Book !! Yeah you right about taking advantage of Deaf chilren and Deaf girls working so hard by typing their hands!

I remember that blue book I got from PSD around 1966.

The Deaf Community including the NAD need to do something to take a legal action against Mr. Makkai for stealing an idea and cheating for making big bucks for himself. ASD has a right to sue him for money that he is stealing from ASD’s invention of idioms for Deaf people for the Deaf’s linguistic education.

Hi Amy,

I just found the book.

– Copyright by American School for the Deaf in 1966 — Copyright by Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. in 1975

It appears that ASD gave it up to Barron’s Educational Services, Inc. in 1975.

Its cover is goldish yellow.

“A Dictionary of Idioms for the Deaf”
By Maxine T. Boatner
John E. Gates

Revised Edition Edited by
Adam Makkai

Prepared for the
National Association of the Deaf

Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.

So I am not sure if it is too late or not to get copyright back. We need to review all documents first before we move on.



I have not been privy to your other vlogs but looks like you are educating more than one person with your research and vlog.

I only have one opinion to offer and that is Gallaudet University research center and press could strike a deal for a 4th edition which could expand to include bi-bi idioms.

Just an opinion otherwise thanks for the education.

Bingo, DeafChip.

Now, We need to take the hardest look at the contracts between Barron’s and Makkai’s. Remember that the congress enacted the copyright laws in 1976. We want to see Maxine Boatner’s paperworks with Barron’s before the ASD gave up to Barron’s.

We want to make sure the benefits go to Maxine’s wish.

White Ghost

Hi everyone,

Here is my comment below:



Hi David, and everyone!

Thank you so much for support, and participating in such a stimulating discussion about the book. I am so pleased to see how you all truly care about what is happening.

There is one thing that I still cannot believe, or find this so incredulous that no one else have noticed it? I knew about this for several years ago, and it just been back of my head until I did some ‘research’ online and it confirmed my suspicions.

Remember, I don’t investigate… and I am so thrilled to see the strong response from you!

Let’s hope that the current ASD administration will discuss about this issue very soon, and I am eager to hear their response.

What about National Association of the Deaf? Yooohooo? Bobbie Beth? Nancy Bloch? Anyone? Anyhoo?

Realizing that the transfer took place in 1975 when Barron’s claimed the copyright, most of the people who lived during that time had moved on or passed away.

Lastly, thank you so much for comments, support and energy you have poured into this page, and please do pass this along with others. Email this link to your friends…

Amy Cohen Efron

Intersting story… Its sad to hear about the ASD being taken advantage by the greedy ($$$ in their eyes) people. I hope the ASD adm will do something against these people?? Keep us posted! I’m interested!!

I have the blue book I received by surprise in the mail from my former principal of the oral school in about 19 years after I left that school.

It was an interesting story about the Blue book. I used to have the book, but I don’t know what happened to it. I’ll send this vlog to my best friend who is a teacher at ASD.

Contact NAD and see what they got to say about this?


Hi Amy,

I wanted you to know that I have enjoyed watching ALL of your VLogs.

In your most recent VLog- “Hoodwinked”…I have to make some corrections (if you don’t mind).

(2:35)”..National Association for the Deaf.” It should be National Association OF the Deaf 🙂

(4:26) “…Both graduated with Masters degree from Gallaudet University around same time” It should be Gallaudet College (In 1954, Congress amended Gallaudet to rename it “Gallaudet College” then again in 1986 Congressed voted and rename “Gallaudet University”

P.S. I still have _A Dictionary Of Idioms For the Deaf_ I precious this book! I STILL read to the day! 🙂 We need to support ASD! Thanks for your wonderful VLog!

great topic Amy!

I’m thinking “Damn it” all that money could be used for Deaf Community Development. What a shame!

oh groan..another story of ripping off the Deaf community! It’d be good if someone took the incentive to investigate the copyright and check the law if can file suit. May not be easy…as I understand if there’s 10% difference between original and “copy”, then it’s acceptable..unless you got good lawyers, I guess.
Thanks for bringing this to light for us. Great info!

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