Introducing Birmingham’s New American Sign Language (ASL) Teacher

Dario Luna, Photography Editor

Here at Birmingham Community Charter High School, we are grateful to have an American Sign Language (ASL) class. This class is not usually seen in many schools around the San Fernando Valley. This class can change many people and help improve their variety of skills. More than one million people in the world are functionally deaf.

Having a skill like sign language in your bag could help you immensely. This is where I asked my first question to Birmingham’s new ASL teacher, Ms. Mary Ruth Summers, who was accompanied by her translator. How long will it take a student to learn the basics of sign language?

She answered, “If you dedicate your time and work hard the entire year, a student can then tell me about themselves, their family structure, and what they do on the weekends for activities.  They could talk about their feelings and talk about their opinions on certain things and also know a little bit about employment opportunities, like signing about a variety of jobs.”

I then followed it up with my next question: “Why should students consider taking this class?

Summer responded, “Language and culture are tied together. It’s an opportunity for students to realize that we have a similar experience with struggles, success, and diversities within our community. I think it’s a good opportunity for any student to take any world language as a sign of respect. To know what that culture includes in terms of traditions and to be able to learn something different from what a student is. It’s a different worldview in general.”

At the end of the day, this class is going to make a huge impact. Even just knowing a tiny fraction of the language will help you when you encounter a user of this language. Learning the language will help out the lives of people who are deaf. It opens new opportunities to whoever takes this class because it makes your language skills more versatile.

American Sign Language Signs

Photo Credit: Pixbay