Eternals was released on November 5, 2021. Marvel introduced their first superhero deaf character Makarri. Her powers are superhuman strength and speed. Audiences watched as sign language interactions between her, and the Eternals unfolded.
Speaking with hands is a way of life for those with hearing loss. American Sign Language (ASL) is an entire language through hand and facial movements. Mrs. Alicia Norvell instructs five ASL classes at Westmoore.
Sign language has been used since the 17th century. These hand gestures date back to the 5th century BC of Greece. Mrs. Norvell was interviewed and asked about her experiences teaching ASL, and the benefits of learning sign language.
Q: Is ASL important to teach students?
A: “Deaf people are all over the world, and we must communicate with them.”
Q: Should teaching ASL be more open for students to take as an elective? For example, Freshmen cannot take sign language until they are sophomores. But we can take French and Spanish.
A: “I like it that way, my classes are full, and as Freshmen, they take it as a requirement. After about a year, most Sophomores are interested in taking certain classes, like ASL.”
Q: What events do ASL clubs offer for students?
A: “We do not have any clubs right now, not unless students are willing to put effort into it. I am not only a sign language teacher, but I am also a special education teacher. I do not have as much extra time. Of course, I would be the sponsor, but it would have to rely on student leadership. We did have clubs, but unfortunately, those deteriorated over time. Students would not get up and around, there was the pandemic, and eventually, it ended.”
Q: Do you think that the school gives you enough support? Should there be more opportunities or representation for ASL?
A: “The school gives fantastic support. Brink also has a deaf ed program. And students can take ASL for a year and continue into one and two and other schools in the U.S don’t offer sign language.”
Q: What are the requirements to take Sign language?
A: “There are no requirements! Other than being upperclassmen. I just want my students to be involved and interested in ASL. And not feel like they are forced to take it to graduate.”
Q: Do you think more students should join Sign language clubs/classes?
A: “My classes are full, so I don’t have the space for more students. We would have to get another teacher to fit more people.”
Q: What effects has the pandemic impacted on sign language classes?
A: “We were going to sign the national anthem at the school’s football game, but unfortunately the pandemic kept us from achieving this. Online students aren’t able to take ASL classes, I believe it is only Spanish. So, some of my students took ASL as Sophomores and didn’t return until they were seniors.”
Many schools in the U.S do not offer deaf education as an elective option. Over 5% of the world’s population (430 million adults and 34 million children) struggle with hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated over 700 million people in the U.S will have developed hearing loss by 2050.