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The Lookout | July 17, 2018

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American Sign; culture within a language

Jaimie Bozack
Staff Writer

As some students walk through the halls talking among friends, telling jokes and stories, there are others also talking and telling jokes, but not with their voices.

American Sign Language (ASL) can be seen all over LCC’s campus as students in the Sign Language Interpreter Program interact with other students in the program, as well as deaf students, every day.

Lindsay Williams, teacher and adviser for the ASL program, said she has been signing since she was young, but started learning ASL in 2006.

“I have a cousin with hearing loss and we signed growing up,” Williams said. “We did our best learning from books or well-meaning friends, but I didn’t learn the difference between that and ASL until I took a class and fell into it.”

Williams said the hardest thing about signing is learning the way of life for a deaf person.

“The hardest part is trying to get my mind around the fact that deaf people have a culture separate from you and I,” Williams said. “They have their own stories, poetry, heroes, history and all of the things that make a group of people unique.”

Williams encouraged students to consider learning sign language.

“It’s fascinating, and the students and faculty are a tight-knit group,” Williams said. “The more people who sign and get aware of deaf culture, the better we will be as a human community.”

Jennifer Kolhoff, sophomore in the ASL program, has been signing since 2012.

“I started taking ASL classes to fulfill my foreign language credits for an associate degree,” Kolhoff said. “I fell in love with learning the language and started doing research into the demand for qualified ASL interpreters in Michigan.”

Kolhoff said the hardest part of signing was stepping out her comfort zone to learn a new language. She said she is now more comfortable.

“What is really funny about forgetting words is that sometimes now I forget English words, and I get frustrated that my family doesn’t know what I mean when I sign it,” Kolhoff said.

Kolhoff said the faculty at LCC has been her greatest help in learning ASL.

“The instructors are amazing at giving us all of the tools and tricks of the trade to be able to know exactly how to handle a situation once we are out in the field of interpreting,” Kolhoff said.

Kolhoff said she loves ASL because she feels like she is challenging herself.

“Learning a new language is tremendously challenging and immensely rewarding,” Kolhoff said. “I really like the fact that I’m following a career choice that makes me feel like I make a difference in the world around me.”

To find out more information about the sign language program and upcoming events head to http://www.lcc.edu/cma/sign_lang/

CAPTION: LCC’s American Sign Language program performs a flash mob on April 15 in the Gannon Commons.

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