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October 18, 2002

Word spreading about sign language club

From: South Marion Citizen, FL
Oct. 18, 2002

Herb Weston

Silent Wolves is the name that ninety-four students have chosen for their Sign Language Club at West Port High School. Communicating with relatives, friends, interpreters, and a desire to pursue sign language in college were the stated reasons for participation in Silent Wolves’ activities and study. Dues are $3.50 per year.

Linda Thompson and her assistant Diane Foster, a student at the University of Florida, are teaching the Pledge of Allegiance, in addition to elementary signs that designate a relative: Father, Mother, etc.

After one month, the average student is proficient to communicate many phrases such as, how are you? I am fine, thank you. The average person’s daily vocabulary consists of perhaps of not more than 350 words.

Thompson did not estimate the daily vocabulary of one using sign language. A combination of signs may constitute a word.

When using the sign language, the left hand is the anchor for those that are right handed. The right is the hand of the most motion; basically the left hand is stationary.

There are signs for numerals one through ten, but zero is not included, and there is a sign for every letter of the alphabet.

The alphabet is for names, not just letters. Sign languages are not universal and some signs, like dialects, differ according to geographic location.

There is not a sign for every word and some meaning may be lost in translation. One sign often has several meanings.

Context, facial expression, mouth movement and body language are aids in interpretation and understanding.

When engaged in an argument hand motions are more abrupt, have a larger range of motion and are more dramatic.

The terms, deaf mute and deaf-and-dumb are taboo. They are offensive to the handicapped. One who cannot talk prefers to be referred to as deaf.

Causes of deafness, the term used for one that cannot speak, are numerous. Deafness at birth, injury during childbirth, infection and accidents are leading reasons for deafness.

The Silent Wolves meet once or twice a month. A textbook is not mandatory because of the expense. Those who want an accelerated pace of learning gather each week.

According to Thompson and Foster, the need for accredited teachers and interpreters is acute. At the University of Florida there is a three-year waiting list for those pursuing a study of sign language.

Sign language has been assigned to the foreign language department and is a credited course. Few colleges offer a course of study in sign language.

Linda Thompson accompanies the only handicapped student to class and acts as her interpreter. She is anxious for individuals to become involved. She believes that many can make a very worthwhile contribution.

Go Wolf Pack!