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How To Learn Sign Language

Denali Events: American Sign Language in Denali

PT Lathrop: Hi, and welcome to Denali Events.
Denali Events is a new public outreach platform that we are doing here at Denali National
Park and Preserve. We hope to bring you short, 15-minute conversations with really, I would
say, important and special guests here in Denali National Park. If you’re watching at
home and you need closed captioning, you can go to our website at, D E
N A and follow the links to this video and others there. If you miss this video or some
other additions, you can go to that same website and find those there. Today, I, your ranger
PT, am honored to bring you two very, very special guests. Volunteering in National Parks
becomes more important every single day. We rely on our volunteers to do everything from
helping us build trails, maintain supplies, reach visitors, keep visitors safe, and in
this case, I think maybe a little bit of all of the above. I started out as a volunteer
in the park service and so I’m really honored to work with these two folks every single
day. If you are interested in volunteering, you can go to So with that, I’m
honored to introduce you to Matthew and also Susan. They are two volunteers that I’ve been
working with this year and they are here to tell you a little bit about what they do in
the park helping visitors get a little bit deeper understanding of Sign Language. Susan: Okay, first I have to tell you guys,
Matthew and I have been beyond fortunate to be volunteers at Denali National Park. Our
interpretive rangers, thank you PT, our interpretive rangers, our law enforcement, building and
maintenance, the staff at Denali and all of the visitors that have come here have been
wonderful. Matthew, my son, love him dearly, he brings a number of unique qualities and
abilities to the park and Denali National Park has not only accommodated for some of
his challenges but they’ve encouraged him to highlight the skills that he does have.
Now Matthew, through our course of volunteering here, has developed a few prop-chat-matching-game
kind of things that he does with the visitors that utilize ASL, or American Sign Language.
Now depending on the chat and what he does, sharing this information can be with or without
a voice interpreter, which is really nice. I have noticed while Matthew has been doing
some of these ASL programs that his sign language more readily crosses language barriers with
some of our non-English speaking visitors that come to the park. He has had a number
of small groups, three to six people at a time, some Japanese, German, you name it.
Quite a variety. They more quickly recognize and are able to identify the animal that Matthew
is speaking about when he uses sign, then if I were to just present the English word.
It is also a great opportunity for English speakers who come to the table and learn sign
language for the animals that are here at the park, to be able to communicate about
the animals in Denali silently. Which is an ability that is applauded by the people on
the bus, the people who are driving the bus because we want there to be silence while we
are viewing our Denali animals. Now Matthew and I are also putting together a handout
for the animals and the ASL signs. We are hoping also to add the ASL alphabet and the
numbers. Many of the photos that we will use in the handout are done by Diane Kirkendall.
The line art that we will utilize to show the sign has been done by Belinda Vicars and
she is off of the East Coast, or lives out of the East Coast, exceptional woman, both
of them. I am hoping that they can use the handout, either in the discovery packs for
the kids, or maybe on the bus system. Anyway, we are developing that as well. Now, for the
matching game. I am going to step out of the way so that Matthew and PT can play. What
Matthew will do is he invites the audience, one two, three, six people, he invites them
over. He will point — and at this time, we are going to use tracks but he can use tracks,
skulls, pelts, he can use scat, any of those objects. Today we are going to use the tracks.
He will point to a track, he will produce the sign. He will ask PT then to produce the
sign and to identify which animal it is that made that track. Alright? PT: I’m ready. Susan: Alright, are you ready Matt? Okay,
go! PT: Yep, I’m Ready, I’m ready. Where do we
start? Susan: Yeah, I guess we should show that. PT: No? No. Bear, bear. Excellent. What next? We got… we got a wolf. Susan: Not yet, not yet PT! PT: Sorry, Susan. Susan: That’s okay, that’s alright. PT: Wolf. Wolf. So, Moose? Moose? No. Caribou,
caribou. Okay. Okay, so that’s moose and that’s forward. Moose. Sheep. Dall Sheep. Dall Sheep.
Cool. Susan: Now, if there is time, and please understand,
usually there are bus schedules and people need to get out back to their buses to continue
with their tours, if they have time, then Matthew does an additional thing and Matt
I’m going to put these back for you. Is that alright? Okay. Matthew does an additional
thing. He will use another set of objects again, one of the four that I originally told
you- skull, pelts, scat, and tracks- in this case he is going to use scat, one of our favorite
and he will ask the person, he will repeat the sign and ask the person to match that
to the track. He can also ask that they reproduce the sign again, cause as you all know, the
more often you repeat a sign, the more likely it is for you to keep it. So Matthew would
you like to do that with PT? Do you think he is a good enough student we should continue
this game? I think he is exceptional. Let’s go on. PT: I try, I try. Bear. Bear scat. Matthew: Right. PT: Cool. Wolf scat. Wolf. Caribou. My favorite- sheep. And the last one. Moose. Susan: Excellent. PT: Did I do go? Matthew: Yes. Susan: I think we get a high five. Don’t we
have to high five here? I think that’s necessary. PT: Thank you Matthew. Susan: Okay, now if Matthew has a voice interpreter
with him, like if I’m with him, then we will add information as we are doing this. We will
talk in particular about the bear scat and if the scat has more berries in it, what time
of year the bear ate that. If we are dealing with skulls, we can talk about them being
carnivores and how the teeth are used for ripping and tearing. If we talk about the
pelts, we can talk about where they were harvested, what kind of fur is on this particular animal.
There are lots of things we can do with this. But what I have found the most beneficial
is that many of the people remember these signs and will produce them again when they
see us out in the public or if we are roving or if we are on a bus somewhere, they will
repeat these signs. It’s been a wonderful way of introducing ASL, making it positive and
talking about the animals in Denali. How can that be bad? The wildlife in Denali. There
will be more words or animals on the handout. I am going to have Matthew show you those
signs. And PT if you wouldn’t mind, would it be all right with you to go ahead and repeat
those signs as Matthew does them? PT: I would love to. Susan: Could you very carefully show our beautiful
audience the sign for dog? All right. How about the sign for dinosaur? All
right. How about the sign for rabbit? In this case, Denali has the horseshoe hare. How about
sheep? Ah, PT’s favorite sign. Squirrel? Wolf. Excellent. Beaver? Fox? Caribou. Moose. And bear. Alright, that is it for us. P.T., what have you got? PT: Thank you Susan, thank you Matthew. This
was a real treat. A real honor and pleasure to not just be with you guys as always but
also to welcome all of you into Denali for just a moment. Your next livestream Denali
Event is tomorrow at 5:00. You get to meet our artist-in-residence, who is a very talented textile
artist. I hope you come back and I hope you enjoy. Thanks for tuning in today, guys.

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