This year, I’ve been asked to use my business analyst/project management skills for a group. I asked for this group in particular because once I saw them, I knew it’d be a non-profit that I believe in. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working with ASL Advocates – a group that promotes American Sign Language and wants to bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf communities. As I work for them and with the Cleveland GiveCamp team, I will be posting here about our experiences on their project. But today, I wanted to share my view as to why I believe in them.
Learning ASL While Young
When I was in Girl Scouts as a kid, I remember seeing a section in our book on American Sign Language. It intrigued me to see that you could “talk” through these hand signs. I made it a point to learn the ASL alphabet so that I could at least spell my way through a situation should it ever come up.
Shortly after that realization, I learned a few words from someone close to me – my little cousin Maureen. She was three years younger than me, and she had Down’s Syndrome. Moey taught me how to sign a few words, including my favorite… cookie! I wouldn’t realize just how cool it was to learn from Moey until a few years later, when we lost Moey. While she may be gone, her memories still live on.
Continuing to Learn ASL
When I was in high school, I spent a summer as a volunteer camp counselor at Augustine Rainbow Camp. I heard about the camp through a diocesan committee that I served on while in high school. It was great to work with the campers, other counselors, and other staff on board. Some of us had most of our hearing, others were deaf. However, we learned from each other that summer. I learned how to say hello and how to introduce myself. I also learned to slow down a little when speaking and stay patient while trying to communicate with each other. It was definitely a great learning experience.
Fingerspelling in Action
As an adult, I’ve used my fingerspelling abilities a couple times. One year, I met a friend’s friend (who is now a friend) – and he’s deaf. When I first met him, it was my nature to just jump into fingerspelling. I eventually got past that.
Another time, I was waiting in line at a Marc’s retail store. I noticed two gentlemen sign with each other as one was entering and the other was leaving. Later, while waiting to check out, the one who entered got into our line. Our cashier had to step away for change for the cash register. The gentleman had a look of frustration on his face, as there were longer lines and this one seemed held up without a reason. As soon as I spelled out c-h-a-n-g-e, he nodded and the frustration disappeared. It was an unexpected skill that made someone else’s day easier.
A Non-Profit I Believe In
These experiences are part of why I believe in getting ASL advocacy out there. I look forward to working with ASL Advocates in getting them a solution that works for them!
This is just one of the many non-profits that we’ll be helping at Cleveland GiveCamp on July 29 – 31. Have you signed up yet? If you haven’t, check out their Volunteer page and then sign up!