JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Instructional Youth Programs is now enrolling new students for American Sign Language classes.
Whether they are curious to learn a new skill and broaden their horizons, or they have a family member they wish to better communicate with, these classes offer a path for military family members to accomplish those goals, said Ruth Garcia, the IYP sign language instructor.
The classes span the length of a school year and are available to adults as well as children.
The one-hour classes, available for seven years old through adult, are hosted at 6 p.m. every Monday, and children 3 to 6 years old have a separate class time at 7 p.m, said Elida Narciso, Operations Clerk at JBER IYP.
"My goal is to pass on a passion," Garcia said. "A passion for language, and a little bit of knowledge of deaf culture."
Hearing families can have deaf children, and it is very wise to know all their options, Garcia said. "A lot of people are intimidated when they have deaf kids," Garcia said.
Classes like this one offer a way for curious individuals looking to expand their skillset, or military individuals who have suffered from hearing loss as a result of the equipment they work with in their day-to-day duties to learn ASL.
Students in Garcia's class not only learn how to sign, they also learn how to communicate with deaf people.
"ASL is a beautiful language, It's so much more than hand movement," Garcia said. "It's facial expressions, it's body language, it's an entirely different culture."
Garcia, whose husband is an active-duty officer assigned to Osan Air Base, Korea, has nearly 10 years of experience as an instructor and has been teaching as an ASL instructor on JBER since fall 2013.
"Deaf people aren't broken," Garcia said. "They just hear differently."
For more information on the ASL classes offered through the IYP here, call 384-1508, or visit their website at www.elmendorf-richardson.com/family/instructional-youth-programs