Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Librarian Post: Learning ASL!

  On January 23rd I started taking a Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff class through the American Library Associaton's e-courses platform.
   There are a lot of reasons for me to do this. First, I am already bilingual but have always had a fascination with all languages and have always wanted to learn more. In addition to speaking English and Spanish, I have taken courses in French and Japanese, and am planning to add Italian and Portuguese to the list soon.
   Second, I like to learn. Learning is fun for me, it's a hobby of mine, and I never want to stop learning. 
   Third and most important to me is that my branch library has a good number of regular patrons who are deaf or severely hearing impaired. In our entire library district, we have one librarian who is proficient in ASL, and he is about 2 years from retirement, at which point we will not only lose our only signer, but also lose our Special Services librarian, which is terrible since our community has a TON of people with special needs! 
   In the 3 years I have been at my branch I have been increasingly frustrated by my inability to communicate smoothly with out deaf patrons. Sometimes, writing notes just doesn't cut it! ESPECIALLY because some of my deaf patrons are also Learning Disabled and can't write very well or are not very verbal either. 
    So I embark on this new adventure. It's an intense class and an intense concept. Luckily my bosses in library world have been VERY supportive, paying for the course and allowing me to work on assignments while on the clock (since it is directly a benefit to the library to have me learn this). I am VERY excited for this! 
   In case you want to learn a little bit of ASL yourself, below is a lovely chart of the finger spelling alphabet. Take a moment and learn to sign your name!

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