SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) — One classroom is the quietest you’ll find in the Miami Valley, but students will likely learn more there about communicating than anywhere else.
For the last 15 years, Springfield students have been singing the praises of their American Sign Language class, but their teacher, Arlon Nash, hasn’t heard a word of it. He’s deaf.
“I have a peaceful life, it’s very quiet,” Mr. Nash said, signing to an interpreter. “With sign I feel like I’m missing nothing at all.”
Mr. Nash lost his hearing when he was 5-years-old because of an illness.
“When I became deaf, I started using my eyes more and it became less about hearing,” Mr. Nash says.
Now he’s trying to open the eyes of his students.
“That’s part of the purpose of this is to be a bridge between the deaf and the hearing,” Mr. Nash says.
For some like Jessica Brinegar, learning to sign is more than a class, it’s a chance to connect. She has a cousin who’s deaf.
“It was difficult for our family at first but once I learned it I taught everyone else it,” Brinegar says.
Two interpreters, Donna Francis and Cathy Lawson, help with the class.
Mr. Nash has a creative way of teaching sign language, using things like stuffed animals. Anything to help students speak with their hands.
“Many think it’s going to be an easy class,” Mr. Nash says. “An easy language to learn. But it’s not always easy.”
But students who stick with it, seem to love it.
“I see many students who come up to me and say I’m so happy I learned this language,” Mr. Nash says.
The class even had t-shirts made up.
Students also perform songs at events around the area.
The class gives them a chance to be heard, even when they’re not.