YAKIMA, WA – Yakima Valley College offers American Sign Language (ASL) classes for any experience level. Sign up online for ASL 101 this spring quarter in March.
All classes are over zoom. To help students truly grasp the importance of the language, students and their professors have their mics turned off during class.
Students sign and follow along with their professor, John Paul Cyr, as they learn numbers, shapes, and letters. He said he incorporates the deaf culture into the curriculum.
Cyr said he loves helping his students become an ally for the deaf community. He said he teaches about 100 students every quarter.
“It’s going to have a great impact on the deaf community as far as accessibly goes and as far as awareness goes,” said Cyr.
For most, learning ASL is just an extracurricular but for freshmen Addy Somes, it can save her life.
“When I was 12, I was diagnosed with severe high tone hearing loss,” said Somes.
Somes said her hearing is getting worse, even with two hearing aids in. She said she wanted to take ASL as a precautionary to losing her hearing completely.
“It makes me feel more hopeful that I will still be able to communicate with people if that actually happens in the future,” said Somes.
Another ASL 101 student, Brock Molenda, is an aspiring police officer. He said he wants to become the liaison between police officers and the deaf community.
“I know they feel discriminated on and if everyone knew sign language it would help them out big time and make them feel more welcomed in the community,” said Molenda.