Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who Turned Me On to Sign Language?

Back in the early '70s my husband and I were living in St.Petersburg, FL.  He was stationed there with the Coast Guard.  I met two local women who were dating Coasties at the time and one of them, Susie, was deaf.  I didn't realize it at first because her speaking voice was so good.
We became fast friends and since she had spent a year at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC (liberal arts college for the Deaf), she knew Sign Language.  I was fascinated and so the teaching began.
I never knew I could actually do anything with the language but I never lost interest even after we left Florida and moved back to Pennsylvania and then to Michigan.
I worked in a hospital and several doctors offices and moved to Allegan where I worked in my father's medical office until he retired in 1985.  Still interested.
And then I took a class (community ed. in Holland) and was really hooked.  I started looking for Deaf Ed. classes I could volunteer in and my language base grew.
I never enrolled in an Interpreter Training Program because the nearest one was in Lansing - Lansing Community College - and it's an excellent program run by my pal, Brenda Cartwright, but too far to commute.
Fortunately the state of MI was putting on workshops for educational interpreters and I started attending those - that's where I met Brenda who became my tutor for a while and helped me pass my first state test.  Thanks, BC!
I went on to work for Kalamazoo Community College, Western Michigan University, Loy Norrix High School, Saugatuck High School and Allegan Public Schools.
I retired from public ed .interpreting in 2006 and now work for two freelance agencies that send me out on jobs - when I want to go.  Ahhhh, the beauty of freelance - love it.
Back to, Susie.  She died a few years ago and I miss her every single day.  But I think of her often and thank her every time I raise my hands up in the air to aide in communication.


  1. In highschool, wasn't there someone in band class that could sign?

  2. No recollection of that, Stace. Well, I guess I could make something up - seems to be my modus operandi, anyway.