WNC’s ASL program goes fully online; Students to benefit from technology upgrades

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Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

Students can expect to receive additional benefits from changes to the Deaf Studies program at Western Nevada College, starting with the upcoming Fall 2022 semester.

For the first time, American Sign Language 1-6, Fingerspelling 1 and 2 and Deaf History and Deaf Culture courses will all be available fully online. The ASL and Fingerspelling courses are offered in eight-week blocks so students can complete their foreign language requirements by completing ASL 1-4 courses in one year. The Deaf History and Deaf Culture courses span 16 weeks of learning.

“Although the courses are rigorous, they are set up to meet the demands of students who have busy schedules and have work or family obligations,” said WNC ASL Instructor Margaret Craig.

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Craig said that the online ASL courses are self-paced with a recommended weekly schedule and assignment due dates for students. To enhance and improve skill development and demonstration, the program has implemented the online learning tool GoReact for student assignments in ASL courses.

“GoReact is an online video recording tool designed to provide feedback for public speaking/speech, presentations, sign language/interpreter training, student teaching and observation for grading purposes,” Craig said. “It is an exceptional platform for video feedback.” WNC also uses the web-based learning management system Canvas for written assignments.

“Instructor videos are embedded into the courses for presentation explanations, including both expressive and receptive practice. The courses contain rich content including many videos of native signers,” said Craig, who recently received a Community Hero award from Greater Nevada Credit Union.

Professor Cindy Frank teaches Deaf History and Deaf Culture online, as well as combination classes ASL 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 that are presented in person and HyFlex. In a HyFlex course, instruction is delivered both in person and online at the same time by the same faculty member. Students can then choose whether to show up for class in person or to join it online. These classes are offered in the traditional 16-week semester format. Shannon Council teaches Interpreting and is a full time staff interpreter at WNC. Callie Adair teaches Conversational and Receptive ASL classes at WNC.

For online classes, Deaf Studies instructors are available to meet the needs of the students with one-on-one Zoom appointments or voluntary weekly class meetups.

Classes begin on Aug. 29.

WNC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Deaf Studies, as well as a Certificate of Achievement in American Sign Language.

Craig earned her Associate degree in Deaf Studies at WNC before going on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She worked for 20 years as an educational interpreter in Deaf and Hard of Hearing programs in Carson City and Douglas County. She started at WNC in 2011 and discovered her professional niche designing online ASL classes.

“Because of my love for the language and Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, I wanted to be able to reach all of the students who for various reasons could not come to the college to study in person,” Craig said. “Now, and because of the support of WNC, our ASL online classes reach students in rural areas, parents and grandparents with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, single parents, teachers, speech pathologists, high school students, nonverbal, autistic and homebound students.”

Craig is pleased to announce a new asset for the ASL online program: instructor Betty Hammond. She has a master’s degree in Social Work and is a nationally certified Interpreter for the Deaf through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. She previously taught ASL at the University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College.

Hammond has also worked for the State of Nevada as a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor and as a coordinator of Deaf Services to include administering a contract for Relay Services.

For more information about Deaf Studies online courses, contact Craig at margaret.craig@wnc.edu. To learn about becoming a student at WNC, go to wnc.edu/starthere/ or phone 775-445-3277.

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