WNC Nature Center opened its doors to the Buncombe County Schools Deaf Education Program and similar programs across the area on Sept. 28 in recognition of Deaf Awareness Day.
Kids from several of our schools met at the entrance with teachers and family members before heading in. After a brief orientation, they got to see animal presentations featuring bears, a bobcat, otters, a snake, and box turtles. They learned about feline and canine ecology and got lots of information about the animals that call this region home – all with the assistance of American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters.
“They’re having a great time and learning a lot about the animals here,” said preschool and elementary school teacher of the deaf Lori Pearce. “They’ve also gotten the chance to socialize with other kids in the program.”
Lisa, a senior at Enka High School, said the Deaf Education Program has been highly valuable to her educational experience. She thanked the teachers, language facilitators, hearing interpreters, and other staff who have worked with her through the years. She plans to pursue nursing after high school.
“I’m really proud to be deaf, and I love getting the chance to hang out with the other deaf kids in the county,” she said. “And these services have been really helpful for me.”
The BCS Deaf Education Program is a team of teachers of the deaf, sign language interpreters, language facilitators, and an educational audiologist. The team provides services to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Students in the program receive a wide range of services depending on their individual needs. Some students use ASL or other manual languages as their mode of communication and have interpreters with them for their entire school experience, and others use oral language.
“Our teachers of the deaf and our audiologist utilize hearing assistive technology while serving a very diverse group of students with unique learning needs,” said lead sign language interpreter Kim Martin. “BCS Deaf Ed strives to meet those needs and provide services on a continuum. We help to bridge the gap for deaf and hard of hearing students in pre-k through high school.”