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Sign Language at Search Makes a Great Impact

Sign language can make a great impact in our consumers' daily lives. It can relieve frustration which results from not being able to communicate needs and wants. It also serves as another way we can aid consumers in becoming more independent.

Staff members have expressed interest in learning sign language for different reasons. Some want to learn so they can teach consumers. Some want to learn so they can understand a consumer who signs and communicate by signing with them. As of October of this past year, Search has responded to this need by integrating sign language into the daily schedules at all of the Adult Learning Program sites.

Consumers and staff members learn signs associated with a different topic, every day of the week. With sign language being a formal part of the everyday schedule, it is hoped that staff and consumers naturally integrate these signs into every aspect of the day. As a formal aspect of Glidepath curriculum, the Daily Sign Language module focuses on five topic areas per quarter, and five new topic areas are introduced the following quarter.

One staff member who has been having fun with the sign language module and integrating it into her classroom's daily schedule is Chelsea Whitis. She has been working at Search since August and has always been curious about sign language. Afternoon transition times can be challenging, but Chelsea has used this time to engage consumers by practicing sign language.

Chelsea was surprised to discover that a consumer who can talk knew many signs and she saw how proud he was to show others what he knows. She has experienced many challenges when working as a one-to-one staff, but her patience and consistency began to make a difference one day when a consumer signed "help" instead of grabbing others. Chelsea is amazed at the way her hard work has been paying off.

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