With the help of her friends, the internet, and television, Emily Metivier learned sign language in almost three months. Now she interprets the national anthem at football games, and she occasionally interprets for her friend who is mute.
Emily’s curiosity sparked when she started watching ABC Family’s Switched at Birth. One of the main characters is a mute girl. She did some research and began learning on her own. Some of her friends knew how to sign, so she continued to learn from them.
Her friends encouraged her to start a sign language class, where they could learn sign language instead of Spanish, Portuguese, and the other languages offered by the school.
She approached a teacher with the idea and then began the sign language club. Fifteen students regularly attend the club. “It took about a month to get it all started, and get people to join.”
Emily says her parents are very proud. “They’re very excited about it. Whenever they see someone at the grocery store or something, they mention it.”
One of Emily’s friends, Victoria Clayton, attended the sign language club for some time. Her two brothers are autistic, so she and her mother learned to use sign language in order to communicate with them. “He [one of her brothers] used to tantrum a lot because he couldn’t speak to her. I learned so I could help him with what he needed,”Victoria says.
Some students, like Katie Benson, joined the club simply because they thought it would be cool to know how to sign. “It seemed like a fun thing to do,” Katie says. She’s just learned the basics, but she definitely knows enough to use outside of school.
“Some people say it’s not a language, but I think it is, personally. I think it’s important because if you go out into the world and you work with someone who is deaf or mute, you want to communicate with them, so you should know sign language,” Emily says. She feels that it should be considered a class like a foreign language at Hudson High.
The class is mostly visual. Emily shows the students a sign and they imitate her, but she passes out handouts for them to practice at home. A monitor currently observes the club with hopes of creating an actual class for all students.