Youth involved in 4-H can learn sign language

Looking at learning a new skill related to communicating with others? 4-H offers an American Sign Language class at Exploration Days.

American Sign Language (ASL) is the fourth most commonly used language in the U.S. Nationally, more than 15 million people have a hearing impairment and nearly two million are considered deaf.  ASL is the official language used mostly by deaf and hard of hearing people.

According to Michigan State University Extension, there are many job and career opportunities for youth and adults that know sign language. It could be teaching other students, being an interpreter in communities or helping in settings like hospitals, courts or public events.

According to the project idea starter fact sheet created from Ohio State University, these are six great reasons to learn ASL.

  1. To learn a visual-gestural language using your hands, facial expression and body language.
  2. To learn about the culture and history of American deaf and hard of hearing people.
  3. To communicate with members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.
  4. To build a foundation for further studies in deaf and ASL-related fields.
  5. To gain valuable skills and knowledge that can increase job opportunities within a diverse group.
  6. To experience a different way of learning.

Each year, Michigan 4-H Youth Programs puts on an event called 4-H Exploration Days where youth aged 11 to 19 from around the state come to Michigan State University (MSU). While on campus, youth take classes as well as participate in tours and other offerings at MSU.  

Two of the classes offered for youth to take are American Sign Language 101 and American Sign Language 201. Both classes give youth hands-on experience with sign language. Youth also come away with a nice resource book to continue their learning and communicating.

To learn more about signing up for Exploration Days and taking a sign language class, visit your local MSU Extension office.

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