Deaf Students Find a Voice in GCC Sign Language

El Vaquero Editor in Chief

Silence. There is no humming, no telephone ring and no pitter-patter of rain on the windowpane. Horns on the street do not blare, music does not rock and a cat’s meow is nothing more than a yawn. The luxuries of sound are not afforded to those people who are classified as deaf, but they are not cast aside in the world of communication and GCC has embraced the hearing with the gift of sign language.

There are a total of four American Sign Language classes that are taught on campus and lead students through a series of steps in order to give them the knowledge to effectively communicate with those that cannot hear.

American Sign Language 1 is, according to the Language Arts Division Web site, “an introductory course which provides instruction on deafness, deaf culture and the language used by the deaf community.” In addition to the introductory class, American Sign Language 2 offers those students either interested in a career involving the hearing impaired or those with family members that are deaf, a more in-depth look at the communication tool of signing. The other two courses, American Sign Language two and three, further develop skills and vocabulary. It seems that these classes are an important part of the communication process within the deaf community, as the idea of signing has been around since the sixteenth century.

It was Italian physician Geronimo Cardano who first publicly said that deaf people were capable of learning combinations of symbols by associating them with things they recognized. In 1620, Juan Pablo de Bonet published the first sign language instruction manual on the alphabet.

Other milestones in American Sign Language, which is the name of the official system of American signers and utilizes the English language as their base, came soon thereafter, such as the founding of the nation’s first school for the deaf in 1817, and then the first deaf college, The Gallaudet College, in Connecticut in 1864. Since then, schools all around the world have opened up their doors to the deaf community.

Today, American Sign Language is a widely used tool and an expressive and thorough form of communication between the deaf and hearing alike.