DMPS offers ASL lessons to parents to help them communicate better with their children
Capitol View Elementary School offers ASL classes for parents of students who are hard of hearing or deaf, to help bridge the gap.
DES MOINES, Iowa — After noticing a disconnect between deaf and hard of hearing students and their parents, Capitol View Elementary School is working to bridge the gap.
In January, school staff began offering American Sign Language classes to parents and others who have a relationship with deaf students.
Polly Brekke, Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program Coordinator, said 18 Capitol View students are deaf or hard of hearing. She said those weekly classes are important now because they weren’t offered as much during the pandemic.
“Sign language classes are really hard to come by,” Brekke said. “They’re just not available. In the past, you could find them within the deaf community, in churches. But being able to offer sign language lessons to our families is exciting.”
One of the parents of the class, Lindsay McCrea, discovered that her two daughters had hearing loss when they were three years old. One of his daughters, Echo Beveridge, accompanies him to class.
Lindsay said the first sign of Echo’s hearing loss was speech delay. For years after his diagnosis, communication between the two was difficult.
“It was super frustrating,” McCrea said. “Not only to have a conversation with them, but even at three years old they’re mean…it can make the simplest things like going to the grocery store so difficult.”
But, she says, when that opportunity presented itself, she jumped at the chance to grab it. Now she learns more every week.
“It helped so much,” McCrea said.
Coherent learning is what class teacher Lacey McCaffrey said is so important.
“There is a need for [kids] communicate with my family members, and when I was growing up my parents could hear and that was hard for me,” McCaffrey said. “I’m deaf and most of my life communication has been hard for me.”
McCaffrey hopes bringing this course to parents will prevent other children from experiencing what she did.
Brekke said the school plans to start offering an ASL 2 class after spring break. This course will take place on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. in the school library.
This will be in addition to the ASL 1 course, which is offered Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. at the same location.
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