American Sign Language Class

The Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center (DHHC) received a $2,500 grant from the Cape Coral Community Foundation to help support the family ASL classes, which re-start Jan. 14 after a holiday break.

To apply for the grant, DHHC created a 45-second video explaining the need for the classes, pointing out that parents in three out of four households with a deaf child do not know sign language, meaning that 75% of households with deaf children have no communication with their child at home.

“Our goal is to help families bridge this gap by instilling the skills they need to communicate effectively,” said Alicia Miller, executive director of the center. “With the help of the Cape Coral Community Foundation, we are thrilled to extend this learning opportunity to more and more families within our community.”

DHHC offers free weekly American Sign Language (ASL) and deaf culture instruction for families with deaf or hard of hearing children. The sessions, which resume Jan. 14, are free every Tuesday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. during the school year at the center located at 1860 Boy Scout Drive in Fort Myers.

The family sessions are led by a parent of a deaf child and are designed to help parents and siblings learn basic ASL to understand the needs of their deaf or hard of hearing family member.

Parents learn basic communication and sign language, deaf culture and the struggles of raising a deaf child. Siblings play and learn to communicate with their sibling with sign language. Families come together at the end of each session to practice what they learned. Guest speakers, such as other hearing parents who have had success raising their deaf child and learning sign language or teachers who talk about educating deaf children, are sometimes scheduled. Families are encouraged to attend the sessions as often as they like, as education is ongoing.

The center also offers five-week ASL classes for adults, with the next beginning session starting Monday, Feb. 10. DHHC uses “Signing Naturally” curriculum, designed to introduce ASL to aid in communication with the deaf and hard of hearing community and educate those who may be losing their hearing. Classes are $75 for a five-week course, with discounts for the hard of hearing and immediate family members of a deaf person. Classes for the deaf are offered for free.

For information, call 239-461-0334 voice phone, 239-247-5821 video phone. For information on classes, visit dhhc.life/asl-classes. 

About Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center

Founded in 1983 as The Deaf Service Center, the Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center is the only organization of its kind in Southwest Florida specifically working to improve the quality of life for the deaf and hard of hearing citizens and their families through education, advocacy and community involvement. A wide range of services are offered to deaf and hard of hearing children and adults of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Glades and DeSoto counties, including interpreting services, free telephone equipment loans, deaf mentor program, American Sign Language classes, information and referral services, employment assistance, family education, community outreach and education, and adaptive equipment sales. For information, call 239-461-0334 voice phone, 239-247-5821 video phone, or visit www.dhhc.life.