By REBECCA HAZEN
Silent Word Ministries’ 22nd annual American Sign Language Institute (ALSI) will be at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Trenton, starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 7, through Saturday, July 9 at noon. ASLI is an annual sign language workshop for church interpreters and deaf ministries.
“We do this for the purpose of helping church interpreters to improve their skills. We have some different tracts so anyone can come, not just interpreters, to get a good introduction to sign language,” President of Silent Word Ministries, Jon Barr, said.
Community members are welcome to join and can register for classes at the door for $70, or they can come for just the first evening’s events without registering.
“Dr. Ted Camp will open up the event with an encouraging message and then we will have one class after that. The community can come with no obligations if they are curious, and then they can see a little bit of what we are doing,” Barr said.
According to Barr, professional interpreters have easy access to many training workshops, but a lot of church interpreters may be intimidated to go to those workshops because they were not professionally trained themselves.
“We sensed the need to meet up. The people can understand the church interpreters, but there are things we can do better, to can help make things clearer in your church,” Barr said.
The ASLI is also held in Michigan and Pennsylvania each year, in addition to Trenton.
There will be different classes for different ASL levels. There will be a class for beginners, where there will be an introduction to deaf culture, and the basics will be learned, such as ABCs.
“Once you first know a little bit of sign language, and you’ve seen it presented, then it’s easier to pick it up from a book,” Barr said.
The next level is for people who have a basic understanding of sign language, but they need help with grammar.
“Sign language has grammar and a way of communicating just like every language does. It’s different though. We use eyebrow raises, head tilts, body movements, things that are not in English grammar,” Barr said.
The most advanced level of classes will include more grammar, mouth movements, the strength of a sign, and how the meaning of a sign can change.
The ASLI will incorporate ministry with music and sermons throughout the lessons. There will be opportunities to communicate with the deaf community as well, to put the learned skills to use.
The workshop will feature one-hour classes with 15-minute breaks in-between. Barr noted that the three days at the Institute will give someone a basic understanding, but people also have the option of attending the free, longer sign language classes, also held by Silent Word Ministries, for five days each year.
In addition, the Deaf Bible Conference will also be held at the same time, which will include Bible preaching, teaching, and fellowship with friends. General topics include Bible messages for the home, learn to study your Bible, and making good decisions with Bible principles.
For more information, visit silentword.org.