Evolving With the Language: New ASL Pilot at Perspectives

By Sara Porcaro | March 1, 2018

Whatever we do in a day, we do with our hands; whether it's flicking a paintbrush across a canvas, twisting a wrench on a loose bolt, or chopping and whisking the ingredients of a family dinner. But for many people, their hands are also tools of communication, curling into hand shapes in American Sign Language (ASL)--a language Perspectives Corporation has long hosted classes in, providing various audiences over sixteen years of age with the skills needed to communicate in it. Now, with the start of a new ASL curriculum at Perspectives, the immersion into the world of ASL is reaching new heights!

Since 2004, Perspectives Corporation has offered five levels of ASL classes, from beginner to advanced. These classes have equipped employees with the skills necessary to communicate with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, as well as community members who are interested in learning the language for any personal or professional reasons, or both.

The curriculum started with the Signing Naturally textbook series, and then moved onto ASL at Work, hosting classes that meet for two hours per week for ten weeks to discuss the chapters and learning done through the classic textbook model. However, ASL being a vibrant and constantly changing language, the limitations of frozen text soon became apparent.

"ASL is a constantly evolving language, and the material needs to reflect that," remarks ASL Program Coordinator, Heather Niedbala, "and learning about it through frozen text can only bring [students] so far in their ASL skills."

It was these concerns that inspired Perspectives to look for a new way to teach, which they found through True+Way ASL, a student-based, technological approach to the language that uses video and digital lessons. Through this program, which is currently undergoing a trial period by pioneering ASL students, all the course materials are online, and the class meets once a week to discuss the topics, learn new vocabulary along and solidify the lessons along with learning about Deaf culture.

Niedbala notes that "True+Way ASL helps with bringing our beautiful dimensional language to life," and that"that was a tremendous influence with the decision to trial this curriculum." And nearly eight weeks into the curriculum, Niedbala is proud to announce that "[The students and instructors] like it so far!We are truly excited about the new range of skills this new curriculum brings to our ASL classes!"

As technology advances, so does the way we learn, creating exciting new adventures in our path to countless different subjects. Now, ASL at Perspectives is well on its way to a fully immersive curriculum for all interested!

If you or someone you know is interested in ASL, keep an eye on the Perspectives ASL page for upcoming classes and registration dates!