Local couple offers sign language classes

Sue Fleming, The Freer Press

For Gerald and Nancy Black of Freer, teaching sign language to others has become a wonderful learning experience, one they would like to share with more people.

Every Monday night from 6 to 7 p.m. the couple meets at the First Baptist Church located at 513 East Laredo Street.

"We're learning as we teach-there's just hundreds of words that can be learned," said Nancy. "All ages are welcomed to come. So far, our youngest student has been seven and the oldest has been 74."

Black says the reference mostly used during the class has been the pocket edition of "Signing Exact English" by Gerilee Gustanson, Donna Pfetzing and Esther Zawolkow.

The alphabet and hand-shapes are learned first followed by numbers, contractions and affixes, Black said.

"Each week we review words learned the previous week," she explained, "and we work on phrases."

Black said when she and her husband began teaching, granddaughter Dora, a certified signer, was a big help.

"We're learning new words all the time and I think it's wonderful to be able to communicate with the deaf," she said.

Black said the original idea to hold a sign language class evolved from having taught a deaf child in Sunday school a few years ago.

"It just hit me one day that if more people learn how to sign, it would be such a help to those that are deaf," she said. "Anyway, a lot of people don't know we meet and I want everyone to know that they're more than welcome to join us and it's free of charge."