Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Deaf Communication Studies: American Sign Language


The certificate program is one year. It’s
four classes in the fall semester, and it’s four classes in the spring semester.
And of course, you can take those classes part-time if you prefer. So the students
in there, when they graduate, they should be able to carry on extended
conversations on everyday topics. With the certificate, you can work as, for
instance, a teacher’s aide in a deaf classroom. You can work in human services situations, like WIC, Social Security office; any of those government offices
will probably, really value an employee who can also sign. You can take the
one-year certificate and learn ASL and go back to your work, back to your family,
back to your church, and never become an interpreter. If you want to become an
interpreter and you don’t know any sign language, then you take this first and
transfer into the 2-year interpreter education program. Suppose your parents
are deaf, and you’ve been signing all your life, we don’t require that you take
the certificate, so we’re trying to serve very diverse groups of people and
satisfy whatever they need. We offer the program here at Florissant Valley and also offer the certificate on the Wildwood campus. Most of the teachers are native
deaf signers. They grew up signing, and they know the language thoroughly. We’ve
got the tutoring center, so that students – every morning and every afternoon, it’s
available – so students can come in and sit down with a deaf individual, and if
you’ve got an assignment, they can help you with your assignment. Or if you don’t
have an assignment, you can just sit there and chat about their lives, their
families, their work, their experience as Deaf in America
or something, and share and learn about Deaf culture directly, face-to-face, with
them. Our faculty team has so many people that have real-world
experience as interpreters, and just using sign in the Deaf Community, and I
think that’s important to have professors who have real-world
experience. What I love about the certificate is that more and more people
are learning sign language. And some of them have their own personal goal, and we help them achieve that goal. Others take up ASL maybe as a foreign language, and
then they fall in love with it. They go, “oh, this is so interesting,” and we’ve opened their
minds, expanded their minds, and they can see now there’s a whole world out there,
a whole series of fields, that they had never even heard of or never seen
before. They had never considered taking that up as their college major or
becoming their profession, and some of them, you know like I say, learn sign
language and they leave, but that means there are more people in the community
who can sign directly, face-to-face, with deaf people in all these different
situations.

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