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April 11, 2005

Free sign language program available

From: Fairfield Daily Republic, CA - Apr 11, 2005

By Audrey Wong

FAIRFIELD - Parents of deaf or hearing impaired children can learn beginning sign language through a free county program.

The Wednesday evening class is at the T.C. McDaniel Center. Instructors teach students how to sign exact English. People communicate by talking while coding what they say with their hands, instructor Lois Keenan said.

"The most important teachers are parents," Keenan said. "All children learn language from their family."

Cousins, aunts and extended family members have also attended the class, Keenan said. The more family members who learn how to communicate with a deaf or partially deaf child the better, she said.

"In the old days it was just the mother who learned sign language," Keenan said. "That put her in the role of interpreter."

Because of that, other family members would relay messages through the mother and children wouldn't interact with anybody but the mother, she said.

Children also benefit by watching adult conversation.

"Deaf children need to oversee and overhear as much as they can," Keenan said. "The way moms talk to dads is different from the way moms talk to sisters."

The Special Education Local Plan Area is sponsoring the program.

For more information call 399-4469 or 399-4467.

Audrey Wong can be reached at 427-6951 or

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