Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff eCourse

By Maia Jourdan Bergloff, Littlefork-Big Falls Schools

I began the American Sign Language eCourse January 23, 2017, and completed it March 5, 2017.

Overall, the eCourse was very informative regarding Deaf Culture and some signs specific for use in a library environment. I have already put some of the information learned into practice in my Media Skills lessons.

One session explored technologies for accessibility for deaf/hard of hearing individuals. It emphasized for me the need to use captioning whenever showing videos, regardless if I am aware of a deaf individual in the audience or not. Captioning improves skills for hearing students as well. I now make it a point to turn on captioning for videos in my classroom.

Sessions on basic library signs have also been helpful, especially to use with a student who is just beginning to learn American Sign language (ASL). I am incorporating more signs into my lessons for all students as I think it helps the younger elementary grasp Media Center concepts more easily when verbalized and signed together. Signs are used in regular lessons, songs, and rule “dances”. I have ordered several recommended books to add to our collection as well.

This eCourse is instrumental in raising awareness of Deaf Culture, accommodations, and resources a library should offer. It also pointed out needs when utilizing an Interpreter’s services. Since libraries are designed to meet the needs of diverse cultures and languages, this was an excellent educational opportunity for us! Thank you for providing financial assistance, enabling me to participate in this eCourse. I would recommend it for others.

The only drawbacks I encountered were time limitations. Fewer new signs per week, with more repetition, may be helpful in developing better signing proficiency. This may be possible with less time devoted to the subject of Deaf Culture or a longer course. It took MUCH more time per week than the 5 hours estimated!

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