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New to the site and to ASL

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Hello, my name is Becki.  A little over a year ago i enrolled in my local community college's ASL Interpreter degree program.  I was beyond excited and extremely looking forward to immersing myself into a beautiful language and culture.  Upon meeting my instructor about a month before classes were set to start, she very rudely informed me that i wouldn't be able to take her classes due to the fact that i am heavily tattooed, that i would never gain employment as an interpreter, and that i should consider a different educational path.  I literally walked away from that meeting in tears as i had worked so hard to get enrolled, get finacial aid set and plan my schedule around my busy career and home life managing my family.   My current employer was actually good friends with the president of the college and without my knowledge contacted him about my negative experience with the instructor.  I was quickly contacted by the college and told in no way, shape, or form would my tattoos prevent me from seeking an ASL degree with them and was begged to continue with my enrollment..... but by that point i already had such a poor taste in my mouth for the instructor so i decided to withdraw my enrollment and continued to pursue my self study of the language.   I still plan on enrolling in a college level ASL course and/or degree program in the future but until then i would love to meet some new friends here to practice and communicate with! 

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    • I work in a hospital in PA.  I started learning ASL because I had interacted with patients who were Deaf.  The Deaf community in general seems to have a very negative perception of the medical community because no one knows how to sign.  And we are usually so busy following rules about HIPAA and confidentiality that we ignore the communication needs of patients.  I am of the opinion that it can be a great help.  I started learning because the patients that I had were treated very poorly by their medical providers and I didn't want to be the type of person who was capable of doing something and chose not to because it was easier for me.  So, yes.  There is a need for providers who are sign capable.  Frankly though, unless you are intending to go on to become certified, there will be no need for you to use it in a professional capacity.  It seems unethical to interpret for your own work unless you are certified.  That does not mean that you can't still say hi, how are you, how are the wife and kids.  Which is a good thing no matter what.  My suggestion to you would be to go to DC/Baltimore.  See what it's like there.  Get a sense for the community in which you will be working.  Look at other providers in your area and see if there is a need for a provider who signs.  If there is, then great.  Take it up.  Learn until you can get certified, and be that person for the Deaf community in your area.  If not, learn it casually and at least be able to a good conversation with a Deaf person.  DC/Baltimore has a larger population of Deaf people due to the fact that Gallaudet University is located there.  But DC/Baltimore also has a much larger population in general.  So you'll likely not meet as many Deaf people even though there are larger numbers there. I think it would be a benefit to analyze your motivations.  What is your end goal?  What do you want to do with ASL? Do you just want to be an ally for the Deaf community?  Do you want to be a provider in ASL?  Do you just want to be able to be friendly and communicate with someone in their language?  I think the answer to those questions will guide you better. As for learning ASL.  That's gonna be a long process.  Some people pick it up quickly.  I've been learning for less than a year.  I've taken 2 ASL classes.  I study online videos.  I've been told by interpreters and other Deaf people that I'm signing much better than a person learning for a year should be.  Some people learn more slowly.  And it depends on how much time and effort you're willing to commit.  I study ASL at least 30-60 minutes a day.  I've heard people say that it takes 10 years of frequent interaction with Deaf people to become fluent.  So realize that if you want to learn this, it's going to be a long road.  But good luck.  You'll decide what's best for you.  Hope my rambling helps you a little.      
    • Hi, Welcome Scott.
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