DuBOIS - Basic knowledge of American Sign Language is now being recognized as a valuable tool for those working in the social services industry, school teachers, and anyone working with hearing impaired or autistic students or customers. Penn State DuBois Continuing and Community Education, through its “Listen With Your Eyes,” series has offered an introductory level class for years and dozens of people in the region each year have increased their knowledge and skill in communicating with this important part of our community.

This fall, the 10-week introductory class returns with a new perspective. Students enrolled in this class will also discuss how the COVID Pandemic and masking impacts communication with those with hearing impairments, and will receive a clear mask to add to their toolbox. Marla Jo Ball is the instructor for this classes being held in DuBois. It is also Act 48 approved for continuing education credits for educators. Students applying for Act 48 credits must attend all the class hours in order to receive credits.

Ball graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Sign Language. She has been a sign language interpreter for more than 20 years and has worked in local school districts, hospitals and other non-profit organizations providing interpreter services in many settings. Classes over the last three semesters have been very successful and Ball said that she has received many comments from students on the positive impact the new skill has had on their jobs.

The introductory American Sign Language class will meet from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays, beginning on October 5. This class teaches finger spelling, conversational phrases, and a variety of commonly used signs. The class will also include introducing students to the deaf culture and a variety of web sites for independent learning.

Students will be introduced to the concept of “What does it look like?” as an approach to learning this language in comparison to learning a spoken language and how words sound. Class structure will include small group centers for practicing and improving skills. The goal of the class is to allow students to learn, recognize, and reproduce more than 100 signs, while also gaining the ability to spell and read fingerspelling phonetically. At the end of the class, students will be expected to converse with others at a basic level.

Registration is $160, with discounts for current Penn State students and employees. Companies who wish to enroll four or more students will also be offered a discount.

For details and discount codes contact Penn State DuBois Continuing and Community Education at 814-375-4715 or smc200@psu.edu

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