By: Heidi Paxson
Monday, Feb. 5 marked a new milestone for the American Sign Language community at the University of Findlay. Talking Hands, a six week after-school program was launched in the new College of Business and Student Life Center. The program’s purpose is to teach children pre-K through fifth grade American Sign Language, and to inform them on the basics of Deaf culture. The community heavily reacted to the event, filling up the roster.
Talking Hands is facilitated by the Instructor of American Sign Language Leah Brant and is planned and taught by UF student workers. Brant says that her student workers took charge in creating the lesson plans, as well as a fun atmosphere for the kids.
Brant explains that only one of the workers is an education major. Students majoring in various subjects such as nursing, pre vet, and criminal justice are also passionate about educating children about ASL.
“It’s really cool to see all of their ideas and talents come together. They all have the singular passion of ASL and they want to share it and see the importance of teaching sign and information about the Deaf culture,” said Brant.
Talking Hands is not the only example of ASL involvement at UF. There are four different courses for students to choose from, as well as a Sign Language Club that is involved with the community.
ASL courses at UF focus on the development of basic conversation skills while emphasizing an appreciation and understanding of Deaf culture. These skills extend past the classroom by encouraging students to attend community held events, such as Deaf Coffee at Franklin Park Mall.
“Deaf Coffee showed me how accepting the Deaf community is and taught me a lot about sign language and how the community interacts on a daily basis,” said ASL Student Rachel Heath.
The University’s involvement with Deaf culture extends past teaching students a second language, its purpose is to teach students how to be more understanding and empathetic when working with, or interacting with members of the Deaf community.
“The purpose is to advocate to hearing people that you can learn this language, and can learn about an amazing culture that you are surrounded by that you don’t even know exists,” says Brant.