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Learning to Communicate – A 3rd Graders Story

Communicating in today’s world can be complicated. Technology is rapidly changing how we engage others and has allowed us to relay information faster and efficiently in a number of ways: email, social media, phone text and even the process of writing a letter. But, could you imagine having the compassion and ability to learn a new language to communicate with a friend, community member or neighbor? Or learn to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired? One third grade student at A.W. Becker Elementary and her teacher have done just that and more. Meet Giuliana Demarest and Mrs. Stott.

In September, Ms. Demarest expressed an interest with her teacher to learn sign language. She expressed a willingness to learn this communication outlet to express herself with a friend outside of school. This isn’t an easy task to take on and her willingness to learn and convey her thoughts to someone, who is hearing impaired, is both thoughtful and kind. Her next step was bringing this opportunity to her teacher and seeing if it was possible to learn and encourage others to sign. Her interest has creating a school-wide interest in sign language as a second language.

National statistics show a high percentage percent of students and school curriculum’s are interested in having sign language taught as a second language in curriculum’s. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 28 million Americans (about 10% of the population) have some degree of hearing loss. About 2 million of these 28 million people are classified as deaf (they can’t hear every day sounds or speech even with a hearing aid). A “natural” language is a language that is learned as a first language in childhood. However, not all deaf people learn ASL as their first language. Many use it as their second language and some only use a little ASL, if at all.

Here in the United States, American Sign Language is the primary language of an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 Americans, including deaf native signers, hearing children of deaf parents, and fluent deaf signers who have learned ASL from other deaf individuals. Ms. Demarest is seeking to become a better communicator and a friend.

Please stay tuned as her journey to sign continues, along with the assistance of Mrs. Stott, as she learns this crucial second language.