Mon. Sep 26th, 2022
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BOULDER — What started as a librarian trying to learn sign language has grown into community members wanting to learn American Sign Language (ASL.) Inside a rural community library, one woman is bringing people closer together.

“I go around town, I go to the grocery store, or the coffee shop people say I want to learn ASL. I want to learn sign language. I want to take classes. So I have everyone’s number on speed dial, and I am like ‘sign language class tonight, you better do your homework,'” said Nicole Weitzman.

Weitzman has used her deafness as a strength, bringing the town of Boulder into a more accessible community.

“It’s very cool because not a lot of people want to learn, not a lot of people want to be around people with disabilities, so just being in a town that is a really small community and people want to get to know you and the way to get to know me better is to sign with me,” said Weitzman.

The class also changes the pace of how Weitzman usually communicates with people.

“I’m used to having to read everyone’s lips, so it’s nice to change the pace. People are signing because you can only do so much lip-reading,” said Weitzman.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, two to three out of 1,000 children are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.

The library is open to kids and adults who want to learn ASL on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Jodi Smiley with the Boulder Community Library says having the classes truly brings a more caring atmosphere to a town of 1,200 people.

“I think it means a lot to our community members that are deaf to see that we are trying, and that’s all we can do is try to communicate,” said Smiley.

The work that Weitzman does at the Health Department through Americorps and at the library is designed to bring people closer.

“I try to bring the community together and try to show people that we are all normal. We are all human beings. We should all be getting along,” said Weitzman.

The children’s classes are every Wednesday at 4 p.m. and adult classes every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Source: https://www.ktvh.com/news/positively-montana/boulder-community-comes-together-to-learn-sign-language

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