SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — For those who walk the halls at the Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children (SSDHHC) on a regular basis, the world is often divided into two types of people: hearing and non-hearing. For one who is of the latter category, meaningful communication with those of the former can be almost non-existent, leading to feelings of isolation, even within his or her own family.
Which, according to Hannah Thebarge, SSDHHC sign language interpreter, is why it means so much when a hearing person takes the initiative to learn how to talk and relate with the deaf and hard of hearing community.
“It means a lot for a deaf person to be able to see a hearing person try to not only sign, but communicate, to try to get to know them,” she said. “A lot of deaf people come from hearing families and sometimes the hearing families don’t sign. So they’re not used to a hearing person putting that time and effort into trying to communicate with them.”
The school’s American Sign Language (ASL) 1 and 2 sessions, which began Wednesday, Sept. 16 at the South Abington Township campus, are helping community members do just that.
Kimberly Korbiel, of South Abington Township, an ASL 1 student, said she signed up for the class because she would like to understand sign language and deaf culture.
“I like to…see all aspects of people,” she said.
Timmy Habeeb, an Abington Heights High School student, is completing the course as part of his senior project. He believes being able to communicate well with others, no matter who they are, is important for a unified community.
“The better communication we have with each other, the more we’re able to understand each other and work together,” he said.
During an introductory activity at the start of one of the two ASL 1 classes, many students said they want to learn the language in order to communicate with family members or close friends. Others said sign language simply interests them, or they took other classes in the past and wish to review and refresh their knowledge of the topic.
During the courses, participants learn about deaf culture, as well as basic finger-spelling, vocabulary and grammar skills.
Although registration is now closed for the current ASL 1 and 2 sessions, information about future classes can be found online at thescrantonschool.org, or by contacting Thebarge at 570-585-1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.