Have you ever thought to yourself, "Argh! I really wish I knew some sign language"? Never fear! The beginning of a new academic year is the perfect time to address this wish. Simply set a reasonable goal for yourself, which could range from learning a few basic "survival signs" of American Sign Language (ASL) to developing conversational skills, or even to adding to the conversational skills you may already have. Determine the steps you will take this year to start achieving this goal, and then get your plan (and your hands) into motion.
RIT boasts over 1,200 deaf and hard of hearing students, not to mention the many deaf faculty and staff members who live, work and learn in the RIT community. In addition, there are thousands of deaf and hard of hearing people in the greater Rochester area. Signing skills can help you broaden your cultural worldview, make new friends, interact more easily with students and colleagues, add a marketable skill to your résumé, and give you that magical superpower of communicating through closed windows without shouting.
As you embark on this journey, you will find no shortage of resources at your disposal. You can begin by connecting with the RIT American Sign Language and Deaf Studies Community Center (RADSCC), either in person (Wallace Library, rooms 1540/45), and/or through their outstanding website. There you will find a wealth of information about ASL and Deaf culture, ASL and Deaf Cultural Studies classes offered at RIT (some credit bearing), and frequent updates about less formal opportunities to practice while interacting with the Deaf and hard of hearing community. If you're particularly interested in taking non-credit ASL classes with fellow faculty and staff, check out the offerings from the Faculty and Staff Sign Language Program (FSSL) at NTID. Registration is now open for FSSL classes, which will begin on September 6, 2016.
Good luck, happy signing, and have a great 2016-17! (Cue the Deaf applause—hands waving in the air!!!)