Learn American Sign Language

Eva Mihelich

The Center for Hearing and Deaf Services is offering sign language courses year-round. Sign language is a valuable skill to learn, as deaf people make up a large part of the world’s population and deserve the right to communicate just as much as hearing people do.

Besides sign language enabling us to communicate fully with the deaf community, it also offers you a chance to connect your mind to your body, and to learn how to speak in a new way. ASL is officially recognized as a language, so if you become fluent in ASL, you can say that you speak another language besides the one you have grown up knowing.

Sharon Carpenter, the director of the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services, said that there has been a recent rise in interest of learning ASL. “Now more than ever, people are beginning to have an appreciation for sign language and Deaf culture. Sign language has influenced the hearing world more than we realize. When is the last time you waved hello to someone or put your index finger to your lips to tell someone ‘shhhhhhhh’? Ever heard of a football huddle? The huddle was invented by Gallaudet athletes and is used around the world,” said Carpenter.

Students are encouraged to partake in these sign language courses for many reasons, in- cluding the inclusivity it brings to the deaf community, and the valuable lessons you can take from the courses.

Carpenter provided a list of reasons that people should be interested in this. “It’s the most accessible language for the Deaf, allowing them equal footing in a conversation.”

“There are lots of people with disabilities, not just deafness, such as degenerative diseases, autism, or even a speech disorder, who need sign language to be able to communicate. You can speak to someone in any silent environment (underwater, through windows, across a room) and never need to shout.

As well as developing your ability to communicate with your facial, body and hand movements, your listening skills and visual attention will eb called upon to levels you never suspected,” said Carpenter.

The Center for Hearing and Deaf Services offers classes for both adults and children. They are currently offering ASL 1 and will offer ASL 2 in the fall. These classes each have 4 sessions which is very manageable for a college student’s schedule.

The second spring session for ASL 1 runs from April 27 until June 15. The total cost for all 4 sessions is $80.

Consider registering for these ASL classes to learn a new skill and to work towards more inclusivity in communication.

For more information, contact Sharon Carpenter at her email address, scarpenter@hdscenter.org. She would be happy to answer any additional questions. If you are scared to go to these classes alone, do it with a friend or two.

Besides this being a valuable skill to learn in life, it can also greatly enhance your resume, especially if you will be working in a place with a lot of human interaction.

Employees like to see that you can communicate with a wide audience, so if you are able to use ASL to communicate to those who rely on it, that can make you stand out on job applications.

If nothing else, spread the word about these classes!