The Center for Disabilities at USD is hosting a 10-week Functional Sign Language class for anyone interested in joining.
The sign language class will start on Sept 15. The class will be based online and will meet once a week.
Rose Moehring, Deaf-blind program director, said she encourages anyone who is interested to sign up.
“What I love with this class is we’ve had so many different people sign up from students to teachers to even pastors,” Moehring said.
Ryan Groeneweg, Director of Community Education for the Center for Disabilities, said learning sign language is important for everyone, which is why the Center sponsors multiple courses on campus.
“This includes learning how to do functional behavior assessments and learning how to deal with mental health, because what many people don’t realize is how useful sign language can be for communicating anything that may be difficult,” Groeneweg said.
Groeneweg said sign language is useful for the deaf community as well as many other communities with disabilities and disorders.
“Most of my work has always been directed towards students with disabilities and especially autism,” Groeneweg said.
Using sign language can make communication easier, Groeneweg said, for people with communication barriers caused by Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and even mental illnesses like schizophrenia and anxiety.
The Center for Disabilities also works closely with the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Training Specialist for the Center for Disabilities Tova Eggerstedt was awarded a national initiative by the CDC to act as a representative for South Dakota for people with diseases.
“This actually includes genetic and mental diseases like Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and the deaf-blind community,” Eggerstedt said.
Eggerstedt said it is importance for people in contact and working with people with these classified diseases to be able to communicate effectively.
“I kind of act as a middleman between the CDC and teachers and parents and people like that who need to communicate well with the people who have these diseases, and many times learning sign language is the best communication method for them,” Eggerstedt said.
People who work with others that may have mental, communication or learning diseases can take this class offered by the Center for Disabilities, Eggestedt said, to help them connect and learn how to better help the people they work with.
“It is so important for people who deal with diseases and disabilities to be able to communicate what they are feeling or thinking, as many cannot do it effectively and there are a lot of times where we come up short in trying to help and assist them,” Moehring siad.
Students interested in these classes can contact the USD Center for Disabilities at 1-800-658-3080 or on their website www.usd.edu/cd.