East Texans are now being offered a chance to learn sign language at no cost. Tyler ISD’s Clarkston Elementary is offering a free class that will teach attendees basic American Sign Language.
Clarkston Elementary teacher Emily Woodbury said due to a high deaf population, there needs to be a greater fluency in American Sign Language.
“Everyone wants to be communicated with. There’s a big population of deaf and a small population of people who know sign language. When you communicate with someone using their language, it really lights up their world,” Woodbury said. “I really want to share this language with everyone so people in the deaf community can experience that for themselves.”
The original purpose of the class was to teach the parents of deaf children, but it has expanded to anybody who is wanting to learn ASL.
“People really seem to be enjoying it, we’ve had several parents of our children that attend our regional school day program for the deaf. We’ve had several parents and families come in and several people in the community who have few children that use sign language to communicate that’ve come in, they’ve been very pleased that we offered this and are excited to learn,” she said.
Woodbury instructs the class and uses game activities, videos and handouts to teach different vocabulary every week.
“We’ve played some games in Kahoot! and next week we’ll play Headband. We’re trying to change it up and get them to mingle with each other, interacting and learning the language as much as they can,” she said.
The class started in September and is a non-commitment course. Parents and community members are welcome to join whenever they can. Woodbury mentioned that handouts are offered to those who can’t attend classes and want to catch up with missed material.
With the ASL class, Woodbury hopes to help parents by teaching them how to communicate better with their deaf child. She also hopes to help community members with ASL so they’ll use it at their work areas and expand the access of communication to the deaf community.
The sign language classes take place at the cafeteria inside Clarkston Elementary. Attendees are being told to come on the door entry on Fairfax Drive, located on the side of the school.
Woodbury hopes more people show up to classes and her goal is to fill up the cafeteria with members who want to learn ASL.
ASL classes are from 6 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday of the week until Dec. 7. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
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