ASL classes in the World Languages program are growing in popularity, especially ASL 1, 2 and 3 (the basic levels). The Seattle/Bellevue area is a mecca for ASL learners and signers. In fact, the region is one of the largest Deaf-friendly areas with many high schools and colleges in the Puget Sound offering ASL classes. BC’s Main Campus (for-credit) has hundreds of students enrolled in ASL classes, too.
The students at Bellevue College Continuing Education for non-credit ASL classes are from everywhere. Some of them are attendees of Deaf/ASL socials in the community, while some have learned ASL a long time ago in their high school and want to learn it again. We also have students who are learning for their friends who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.
A few of them have family who are losing hearing or lost hearing (or they are the one who is losing hearing), and want to learn ASL as a tool of communication in their household and with other Deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the Deaf community. Of course, there are people who are just curious about the language itself or who just love learning many different languages as part of their hobby. Overall, many of them just love the language!
Amanda Layton is an instructor in the ASL program at Bellevue College Continuing Education. Read our Q&A with Amanda to learn about her and the program:
What is your background in American Sign Language?
I attended Spokane Falls Community College where I earned my Interpreting for the Deaf certificate. I have been interpreting for 8 years, teaching at Bellevue College for two years, and teaching full-time at a local high school for one year.
What inspired you to learn the language?
While I was in high school, the school created an ASL class. I thought it sounded new and interesting and signed up for it as soon as I could. The teacher was absolutely amazing; incredible, energetic and courteous. I strive to live up to the teaching standards that my first ASL teacher had.
Why did you begin teaching at Bellevue College Continuing Education?
I absolutely love American Sign Language. After Interpreting for about six years, I wanted to share my love with others! I saw a job posting for BC and wanted to see how I would like teaching; turns out I love it!
Why should students choose the ASL program at BCCE?
The instructors in the ASL BCCE program are friendly and helpful. Class sizes are normally small to medium, which means students get a more personal approach to learning ASL. Each level is a bit different based on student interest. In each class I like to add something the class wants to learn that is above and beyond the curriculum, so you are learning basic communication and also vocabulary that suits your needs.
What are the personal/professional benefits of learning ASL?
Many of us have family or work with people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Learning ASL will help communication for both people when interpreters are unavailable. You will also learn about the oppression the Deaf culture has undergone throughout the years. Learning ASL will give you an opportunity to be an advocate for the Deaf culture.
What are the top three takeaways from the program?
You will have the opportunity to grow your ASL skills to any level you are interested in learning, you will have a greater understanding of the Deaf Culture, and most of all, you will have a blast doing all of it!
What advice would you give someone who is considering taking classes?
Signing up for the classes is a great first step. To become more involved and immersed, try to be involved in as many events within the Deaf Community as possible. It will be the best way to practice and improve your skills.
Learning ASL has many benefits for personal and professional uses. Are you interested in getting started with your American Sign Language education? Sign up for a fall quarter class by visiting the ASL program.
Last Updated August 7, 2017