VCC offers free sign language sessions to help families communicate

    VANCOUVER, Dec. 11 /CNW/ - Family members who want to communicate better
with a deaf adult relative can learn the skills and subtle body language of
American Sign Language (ASL) at Vancouver Community College for free. The
course will be offered on Wednesday evenings for 15 weeks, beginning Jan. 16.
    Vincent Chauvet, VCC department head of ASL and deaf studies, says fully
90 per cent of adults with deaf children never learn to sign. As children
become adults and families become larger, the need for a course designed
specifically to help families improve communication becomes greater.
    "My own parents never learned ASL," says Chauvet, who has been deaf since
birth. "Often, the children of deaf parents learn ASL as their first language,
but it's harder the other way around. This course is designed to ease that
language gap by providing instruction to people who want to communicate better
with a deaf adult in the family."
    Ian Mitchell, 36, a hearing computer science professor at UBC who studied
ASL in the late 90's, took the course last year to sharpen his skills and
communicate better with his deaf in-laws. His wife, Kaaren Vlug, is also
hearing, and learned ASL as her first language.
    "I found that the classes had a significantly different vibe than courses
I'd taken in the past. Students were older and none of them were looking to go
on to an interpreter program, so there was a more relaxed atmosphere to the
    Mitchell says ASL requires more careful attention to body language than
other foreign languages. He is now able to carry on short conversations with
his parents-in-law and help Vlug instruct their young daughter in sign
    Applicants must have a family member who is a deaf adult, aged 19 or
over. The Grand Lodge of B.C. and Yukon covers tuition for the course.
Students pay only $4.47 to cover student fees and college initiative fees.
Those who want to take the course can call 604.871.7443.

For further information:

For further information: Media can contact: Beverly Pausche,
Communications Officer, Tel: (604) 871-7092, Elizabeth Thomson, Communications
Officer, (604) 871-7152

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