Learn to Sign with Everas!

Although Everas Community Services, formerly the New Jersey Association of the Deaf-Blind, has expanded its reach beyond serving those with sensory impairments, we continue to specialize in supports for people who are deaf-blind, deaf or blind and who have developmental disabilities. All of our employees receive training in Basic American Sign Language and we welcome community members to join our class offered monthly at our main office in Somerset.

The course is taught over a four day period in four hour sessions and begins with an ice breaker and quiz to highlight some common misconceptions about Sign Language and the Deaf Community. We cover topics such as the difference between words in the spoken language and concepts in Sign Language and then jump right into the Sign Alphabet. By the end of the first class, participants are already communicating with each other using basic sign! We are telling one another our names, where we work, and where we live. We can convey how we feel, ask questions, and count. We can identify family members and fingerspell.

On days two and three, the class covers topics including feelings, medical and personal care, terminology, food, and colors. Our conversations lengthen and we practice Tactile Sign Language, a method of communication utilized for people who are deaf-blind. Using blindfolds and voices off, we break into pairs and practice signing into one another’s hands. Without spoken or written words and without sight, we are learning to communicate with one another. More importantly, we are learning a way to communicate with people who we may have felt distanced from before. We have learned that communication, awareness and knowledge can bring us together and creates opportunities for including people in our communities and our lives. ASL is a beautiful and complex language. Just through lessons in the basics, you can learn so much more. Join us!

Beyond Sign Language, Everas maintains an extensive training calendar to ready staff for the direct care service environment. We offer Division of Developmental Disabilities Pre-Service trainings, and additional courses including Positive Behavior Support, Crisis Management, Nutrition, and Deaf-Blind Supports. Family members and community members are encouraged to register for the classes that Everas provides. For more information regarding our classes, please contact Shema Hughes at lhughes@everas.org. We look forward to seeing you in our next class.