MY ASL JOURNEY
I feel like my ASL journey really began in high school. I used to go to Starbucks to study and one week, I was reading and saw a lot of movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a Deaf group that had come there to meet and chat. I watched for a while, fascinated by it but ultimately went back to my book and thought little about the event. I was a very free spirit in high school and knew I was going into music.
I went to Lee University for college and one of my roommates freshman year had taught herself ASL so she and another roommate took classes together. I watched them practice all that year and the next and, again, thought it fascinating but I took Spanish in high school so I decided to stick with that for my foreign language – besides, I was going into music and psychology as my minor along with Bible. I needed to focus on those. Something about ASL, though, continued to intrigue me. About halfway through that second year of college, I remember simply waking up one morning and feeling as if, though I had no idea what it would lead to, I should venture into learning ASL. I signed up for the next year and immediately fell in love. My first professor used a lot of games to teach us and from day one it was a silent class, as it would be with every professor. The next semester I had a professor who was actually Deaf which was an amazing experience. She focused parts of the class to a little more of the culture in the Deaf world. Senior year, I began with a professor who was also in charge of the department for students with disabilities and my last semester I had a professor who had also been a full time translator. It was really amazing getting all those different perspectives of the language.
Lee created their “Deaf Studies” minor the semester I graduated so I lacked the culture classes in order to receive said minor. After council from a couple of my professors and finding I would have to stay another year for just those two classes, I decided to forgo the minor and graduated in May of 2016. I also did not get a teaching degree. I studied Psychology because it was my passion, not to build a high-paying career. My college experience was for my growth and to pursue what I loved. Most of my friends disagreed with me on this philosophy saying my degree would be for nothing but I have no regrets from it. I believe my degree has shaped me and aids me in everyday life and any job I may have that interacts with people. I decided not to take out any loans but simply work and acquire scholarships to pay for my education. College taught me a lot about hard work, diligence, sticking to what I love and, most importantly, patience – with myself and others. Now, I teach ASL from my home in Murfreesboro, TN. I also teach at the school I graduated high school from: Cedar Hall and for CALA – Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition.
Behind the Name
As mentioned above, all my classes in college were taught silent – or at least they were supposed to be. However, when you have a group of friends all in one room, they tend to talk or at least whisper, unfortunately even in class. VOICE-OFF was a frequently used sign. Any time we got a little too rambunctious, our professors would turn to us and sign VOICE-OFF. This was our equivalent of grade school teachers who clap a rhythm and have students repeat it to get their attention and calm them down. As childish as it may sound, it worked quite well and quickly reminded us to use our hands, not our mouths. In teaching my own classes, I don’t always teach silent. I typically give a few classes voice on first to get everyone comfortable. When I do switch to voice off, though, I definitely find myself using this sign a lot. So, when naming my business, I could think of nothing more fitting. It’s short, simple and to the point but also has a great story behind it and conveys a passion to communicate in a different way.