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Mater Dei bring American Sign Language to the World Languages Department

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Immerse yourself in a world where you can’t talk but are only able to see. You have to rely on your hands to communicate with others. That’s what the American Sign Language class is all about.

A new addition to the Mater Dei language department, the American Sign Language class revolves around communication not through your mouth, but rather your hands. In the class, students are taught how to effectively communicate through signs created by your hands.

Jennifer Battaglia, the American Sign Language teacher, explained how she was introduced to the world of sign language when she was very young.

“I learned how to sign when I was six years old. My elementary school has a tripod program, meaning that they mainstream deaf and hard-of-hearing students,” Battaglia signed. “In first grade I was randomly placed in one of these classes. By watching my teacher and trying to communicate with my classmates, I picked up ASL.”

The class learning itself relies on the students’ visual and memory abilities. Teachers demonstrate specific signs and the students are tasked with memorizing the positioning and the meaning of the signs.

“ASL 1 is just like any other level 1 language class,” Battaglia signed. “Students learn vocabulary to have basic conversations.”

With the class focusing more on hand gestures than talking, ASL has been set aside from all the other different language courses. The unique way of watching and learning different vocabulary has attracted many into joining.

“I wanted to take [ASL] because I wanted to learn a language that is different from all other languages.” signed freshman Ashley Zaccari.

Another reason ASL has attracted many is because of how sign language affects the Deaf community. With more and more people learning sign language, this will hopefully let others in the community help those affected.

One of the main goals of the class is for  students to experience the way of life for those who are deaf, and to learn how to make a change for them.

“I hope that my students become Deaf community allies. That they learn about the oppression the Deaf community faces every day and they stand up for the community,”Battaglia signed. “Deaf people can do anything hearing people do, except hear. I want students to realize how the world is made for hearing people and that they’ll want to change that.”

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The Student Newspaper at Mater Dei High School
Actions Speak Louder than Words