American Sign Language students from the high school as well as Beach and Udall recently attended a performance by Alan Abarbanell, whose parents were deaf. In his one-man show, “The Abababa Road Tour,” Abarbanell shared his life experiences growing up hearing in a deaf family and discussed topics such as using deaf household technology and bringing home hearing friends to meet deaf parents.
“I noticed that Alan used a lot of facial expressions and body language,” said student Abby Huners.
“I was surprised by how many people were signing to each other instead of talking with their voice,” said student Sophiya Bahlay. “I hope we have more experiences like this to meet deaf people.”
“West Islip’s world language department has been offering ASL classes for over 14 years at Beach, Udall and the high school,” said teacher Jennifer Colonna. “My fellow teacher Karen Testa and I encourage students to build sensitivity, understanding and tolerance of people whose language, norms and lifestyles are different from what they know. We try as often as we can to offer enriching experiences, such as this trip, that lend themselves as a platform for students to engage in using their sign language skills. Early exposure captivates their curiosity and motivates them to learn more so that they can apply their abilities in real world situations. Many students from our ASL program have gone on to become teachers, interpreters, job coaches, speech pathologists, and social workers, where their ASL skills have been a key to success.”