Thomasville City Schools Scholars Academy’s American Sign Language (ASL) II class went above and beyond the basics of learning ASL as it researched and learned about the amazing abilities of deaf artists.
The students were to compose a research paper on their artist of choice; present a visual, such as a PowerPoint, on their artists; and complete a reflection explaining why they picked the person and if any of their works impacted them. Many of the artists that were studied are or were professors in major universities in the United States and have exhibited with artists of renown such as Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gogh and DuChamp.
Scholars Academy ASL teacher Patricia Souders explained that projects like this help remove the stigma of the "disability" of deafness from the students’ perspective and help them to change their ideology into seeing the "ability" that the deaf world offers as an asset to the entire world.
“I now understand the determination and drive that deaf individuals put into their everyday life; I can see the hearing world through their eyes,” said senior Andrew Parker.
ASL is a visual-spatial language used in the United States and Canada by more than 15 million hearing-impaired adults and children. ASL incorporates both sign and non-manual markers, such as facial and body movements or gestures, to convey the message. It was not until approximately 35 years ago that researchers were able to prove that ASL is actually a language with all of the parts necessary for any language, i.e. grammar/syntax, phonemes, morphemes, and pragmatics.
Souders has been working with Deaf Education as an interpreter and also currently as a teacher for 13 years with the Thomasville City Schools System. Most of the deaf students have no one outside of the Deaf Education staff with whom they can communicate throughout the school day. More than 90 percent of children who are deaf llive with family members who never learn to sign.
“My motivation each day is seeing my students learn. I love learning and there is never a day when I don't learn as much or more than my students while I develop or teach my lessons. When I think I know it all, I need to stop teaching,” said Souders.
Many languages are available at the Scholars Academy such as, Latin, Spanish, and American Sign Language. There are also Georgia Virtual High School language courses available such as French, German and Japanese.
“I am really enjoying my second year of ASL, and I plan to take it in college,” said senior Erin Fincannon.
“I wanted to learn another language in addition to Spanish,” added Parker.