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April 12, 2004

Signers help deaf students in the classroom

From: The Chaffey Breeze - Rancho Cucamonga,CA,USA - Apr 12, 2004

By Aaron Blossom

For students who are hearing impaired, taking notes and understanding in on lectures can be difficult. However, the Disability Programs and Services or DPS office at Chaffey offers assistance to hearing impaired students by hiring American Sign Language interpreters to come in during their classes and sign the lectures.

Diana Baker has been a sign language interpreter at Chaffey since last June. Though many high schools do not offer American Sign Language as a class, she first learned sign language at her private high school, the Gateway Christian Academy in San Bernardino.

"I had to take 2 years of a foreign language in school, so I took American Sign Language," she said. "There was also a guy at my church that helped teach it to me."

According to Baker, DPS prefers to hire interpreters that are either certified or referenced by someone else. Although Baker does not associate with the deaf community on a normal basis, the knowledge of American Sign Language that she picked up in high school was enough to get her a job as an interpreter.

"My dad told me about Michelle (the director for the sign language interpreters) because she needed some interpreters, so I went out and filled out an application. She'll do a little test just to see how much sign language you understand and are capable of, and from there she'll have a deaf student come in to do an evaluation test to see if you're good or bad."

Baker works 4 days a week, which is determined by the schedule that the deaf student takes. Before an interpreter starts off, they first select which hours they want to work by looking at the deaf student's list of classes. So far, none of the interpreters are Chaffey students, according to Baker.

Depending on the class, sometimes two interpreters are required for one student. In normal lecture classes, the interpreter or interpreters will stand at the front of the class near the instructor so the student can watch them both at the same time.

Baker's current salary is $20 an hour for interpreting in classes for student Jose DeLeon. This rate is lower than the salaries of many other interpreters.

Chaffey currently offers a course in American Sign Language, which counts towards foreign language credits. Although students may also choose to learn Spanish, French, and Chinese for foreign language credits, Baker recommends Sign Language.

"People should definitely learn sign language, it's always good to have an extra foreign language to know," she said. "But sign language is probably one of the best to take."

© 2004 The Chaffey Breeze