NorQuest College in our city is offering a course to those new to Canada who are deaf.
The American Sign Language class specifically for refugees and immigrants is a first in Alberta.
Manager of disability services at Norquest College, Alan Jeans said the idea for the class came from a need within the community.
“We did a little bit of a needs assessment on it and realized that the best way to do this and the best way to make sure we’re actually supporting the deaf individuals as well as the Canadian deaf community was to create an ASL class that was led by deaf individuals.”
Jeans said for the students it will be like learning a second language, as they’re coming in with knowledge of sign language.
“In this case most of the students are coming with Arabic sign language and so they have an understanding of communication through visual means. So what they’re doing is they’re essentially just learning another language, they’re learning American sign language as opposed to Arabic sign language.”
He said the students are taught with a combination of written word, pictures and sign.
“So there’s a real good connection between English, because you’re getting the written word, you’re getting a picture, an understanding of what that thing is, and then you’re getting the sign. So it is American sign language and English literacy, so reading and writing is all kind of being tied together in that instruction.
The class is taught by a deaf instructor and a deaf teaching assistant.
Jeans said the course is meant to teach the students ASL, along with Canadian culture.
“So they’re learning also about Canadian culture but also about Canadian deaf culture, and just helping them understand how to integrate within that culture.”
He said the course is also meant to build a community with those who attend.
The course currently has six students enrolled.