Northampton workshop offers basics of signing
NORTHAMPTON — Theresa King likes to have participants in her workshops play games — in silence. King, the director of Signing Basics, will be offering a free workshop at Forbes Library today to help people learn the basics of American Sign Language and introduce them to deaf culture. According to King, the workshop’s silent games show hearing participants that deaf people can have just as much fun.
“They are to teach people how to be comfortable with other people who don’t speak English, who speak another language,” King said.
She founded Signing Basics, which is based in Springfield, in 2007 after getting repeated requests for classes. King has been teaching ASL for over 20 years.
King said she hopes that people leave the workshop with a desire to continue to learn about the language and culture, and that they may consider a career in ASL. She said that it is important for people to consider learning about deaf culture because there are so many misconceptions, like people being unaware that deaf people can drive cars.
“Deaf people can do anything except hear,” she said, quoting I. King Jordan, former president of Gallaudet University in a Washington, D.C., which specializes in educating people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
In addition to games, today’s workshop will teach participants of varied ages and experiences the ASL alphabet and how to fingerspell. King said that learning ASL is not only helpful to expand communication and understanding, but that it is also a great skill to open career possibilities. She said that sign language interpretation is a fast-growing career.
King said that she often gets a varied crowd at workshops, from people curious about the language to new mothers hoping to teach their newborns to baby sign.
The workshop will be held in the community room of the library starting at 10:30 a.m. Call the Forbes Library at 587-1011 for more information.
King will hold regular classes in Northampton at The James House, 42 Gothic St., with the first one slated for April 8 from 6 to 7 p.m.