Author studying ASL course materials

Learning ASL and Deaf Culture in a College Classroom

A college student who is deafblind due to Usher Syndrome discusses learning ASL and exposure to deaf culture in the classroom.

I will be starting the second half of my Junior year of college next semester.  I am one class away from completing my general education required courses.  So, from here on out I will be completing my upper level major classes in Social Work and any electives that I choose to take that will fit into my schedule.  I have selected an elective course for the Fall called Intro to ASL/Deaf Culture because of my interest in learning the basics of American Sign Language (ASL).  Overall I feel that this class will be fun and interesting to complete, although I recognize it will have its challenges for me as a student with deafblindness.  

I am excited to begin the class in the coming fall.  The easiest aspect of the curriculum for me is to understand the deaf culture content, for as a person with deafblindness, I have life experiences within the communities of deafness, blindness, and deafblindness that give me personal insights.  I am an oral speaker and that is my preferred style of communication at this time, but I want to begin to learn sign language.  I believe that taking Intro to ASL/Deaf Culture will give me the foundation of a formal education on this topic, and it will open other opportunities to me as a deafblind individual.  Because this is only an introductory course, I will not be an expert at the end of the semester, but hopefully I will have a greater knowledge of ASL and additional cultural awareness.  I also have some strategies to help me learn ASL inside and outside the classroom.   

Preparing for the Class

I have met and spoken with the professor of the class this semester.  She seems really nice and willing to work with my needs as a deafblind student.  I am unsure of specific accommodations for this class, since we have not yet discussed in any further details the class content and expectations. I plan to email her regularly throughout the summer to see if we can continue a discussion of the curriculum and accommodations for the upcoming class.  My goal this summer is to practice, review ASL, and be proactive to build my confidence for this class.  

Another student gave me his textbook for this class, so I am going to make the best use of it by reviewing the six units over the summer.  My goal with the textbook is to attempt to review a unit per week starting soon. My mom and I have other ASL books, which I want to use as supplementary materials to review and expand my vocabulary.  Viewing these books I will use magnifiers, my CCTV, and other assistive technologies to learn ASL.   In addition, I downloaded an app to my iPad which is an ASL dictionary that demonstrates ASL in motion and is fairly accessible for my needs.  I do know other students who are taking the class from other majors, which may be helpful in creating study groups throughout the semester.  Additionally, there is an ASL club on campus which I am interested in joining.  I also plan to research other learning skills to successfully study ASL as a person with deafblindness (RP and low vision).   

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