Sharon Sanders signs for her daughter Jessica during a discussion with Clay Community School Corporation's Coordinator of Outsource Learning Informational Services Carolyn Kumpf about the two-way videoconferencing equipment at Northview High School. The new technology allowed Jessica to study American Sign Language for her Academic Honors Diploma.
Graduating with an Academic Honors Diploma was of utmost importance to Northview High School Senior Jessica Sanders, but getting the required classes needed would have proven impossible without the two-way videoconferencing equipment at the school.
"Jessica was able to complete the necessary course for her diploma using this new technology," Clay Community School Corporation's Coordinator of Outsource Learning Informational Services Carolyn Kumpf said. Kumpf said that the corporation hopes to use the equipment more extensively in the coming school year for students looking to take classes that are unavailable through the school's curriculum. "It really is a terrific teaching tool with unlimited future applications."
The new technology, made possible through the Clay Co. CAPE. Grant, allowed Sanders to do independent study daily while participating in the American Sign Language conference class offered by Indiana School for the Deaf three times a week.
"I don't really consider myself handicapped," Jessica said with the aid of an interpreter, her mother, Sharon Sanders. The spunky senior, who has been deaf throughout life, considers herself fortunate to have grown up around people able to hear. "I can walk and see just fine. I just don't hear like other people."
The ASL course is a form of shorthand for the hearing impaired that uses quick single word combinations with lots of body expression to sign. It is the primary form of sign used by the hearing impaired.
Jessica, who previously used a form of exact proper English for her sign language, spelling each word completely, found the new way of signing difficult at first, but now loves the quicker way of communicating. She now uses a combination of both forms of sign.
Her mother is still learning the new language.
"It is very different, a much more expressive way to communicate," Sharon said, signing her answer for her daughter. The two share much more than a mother/daughter relationship. They have constantly learned from each other over the years. "I wanted Jessica to be independent, to be able to completely function in the world around her, and she can."
Instead of attending a school for the deaf, Sharon wanted Jessica to grow up around her family and with people that could hear.
"It was a tough decision, but it was the right one," Sharon said, explaining that many students from the deaf school have problems adjusting to the hearing world around them once they leave. "Jessica is very independent."
Jessica, a typical 18-year-old, plans to hang out this summer with friends while working at the local Pizza Hut before starting college at ISU in January to study computer programing.
"I hope that I set a precedent for other deaf people to make the choice to attend a hearing school," Jessica said of her experience at NHS. "It's important for deaf people to be able to function in a hearing world. I hope that I can use ASL in the future to help others."