Wed. Oct 5th, 2022
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Faran Fagen
 |  Special to The Palm Beach Post

Instructor Linda Herenchak silently spreads cards onto a table, each containing one printed word.

Several Summer Chase neighbors, such as Natalie Veyvoda, walk to the table, pick out  a few cards, and sign what they’ve learned in front of a small crowd of both deaf and non-deaf residents of the 55-plus community.

“Learning sign language has been rewarding for socializing with neighbors,” said Veyvoda, who’s lived in the Lake Worth Beach community for 10 years. “As a teacher and musician, I’ve always been interested in learning new languages, and therefore have always been attracted to sign language as another form of communication.”

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Summer Chase, an active adult community of 221 homes, recently began offering a class in American Sign Language (ASL), taught by two of its deaf residents.

For the past several months, they’ve met every Friday, for an hour in the afternoon, and learned methods of communication. During the week, they continue learning and practicing with each other at various activities. The instructors donate their time and expertise, and some of the deaf residents attend to help out.

“The community has approximately 10 deaf residents, and it enables all of us to have a better understanding of each other and to be able to communicate with each other,” said Dick Lowenthal, a member of the HOA board at Summer Chase. “It’s brought about more camaraderie among the residents.”

After each class, teachers and class members often go for a swim together and continue learning while socializing.

In the beginning, Monica Thornton, who co-teaches with Herenchak, taught the residents how to finger spell the alphabet and indicate numbers to build a foundation. She then moved on to teaching signs that have to do with common things in daily life (family, food, holidays, emotions, facial expressions, etc.)

“One teaching method that worked well is to keep things simple and start with the basics,” said Thornton, a four-year resident of Summer Chase. “I also encourage them to practice what they have learned with the deaf residents.”

For Herenchak, her most effective …….

Source: https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/lifestyle/2021/11/11/residents-summer-chase-lake-worth-learning-sign-language/8340119002/

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