By: Monica Munciello
Blackwood-Camden County College offers American Sign Language courses, but many students are unaware of the classes and the deaf studies program.     

Students who aspire to be sign language interpreters are most likely to be familiar with the ASL program at CCC.  The program is usually about two years long.

After the CCC program is complete, transferring to another school such as Gallaudet University for the deaf or Northeastern University to pursue a bachelor’s degree is an option.

Other students at CCC with different majors should broaden their horizons and experience an ASL course.

The ASL courses are taught mostly by deaf teachers.  This might seem alarming at first, but it takes some adjusting.  Learning a new language such as ASL, with a teacher who only knows that one language, is actually easier because students have no other language to resort to but the one they are learning.

When communicating ASL with deaf people, it is easier to pick up the signs.  Students find a way to communicate with deaf people and deaf teachers by practicing sign language repeatedly.

The ASL instructors at CCC encourage their students to attend deaf events such as church with an interpreter, theatre shows with an interpreter, or even meeting with a deaf group that meets weekly at the Deptford Mall.

ASL is a challenge and an experience that could possibly change a life.  The main challenge in ASL is learning how to communicate with the deaf teachers.  The life changing part of ASL is passing by your deaf teacher in the hall and holding full conversations with him or her in ASL.

The ASL courses and teachers work with each student individually to help them develop learning skills in the language.

Donna DiMarco has been teaching ASL at CCC for one year.  She started teaching ASL in 1984, when the society first started accepting ASL as a foreign language.

DiMarco said “it will make my day” when her students learn new signs and understand what they are signing. The main priority of the ASL teachers is to see students communicate with deaf people no matter where they are in the program. 

DiMarco teaches 25 to 50 students each semester.  At first, the students might be nervous or scared due to the fact that she is deaf and cannot speak.  “Oh yes, they got scared because they do not know how to communicate with a deaf teacher,” she said. 

It is important to use ASL once you are familiar with it every day in your life.  If you are learning Spanish, it is important to speak to other people who know Spanish.  ASL works the same way. 

“Students will benefit more when they attend any deaf events more often,” she said.
 The ASL teachers will provide the students with different places to go and different events to attend, so it is easier to meet other deaf people and join the deaf community.

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