Music is universally loved, and for a dedicated American Sign Language (ASL) teacher, covering popular music videos via sign language is one way to encourage more students to learn it.
Teaching ASL to the Youth
A dedicated teacher believes that even children who are not hearing-impaired should learn the American Sign Language so that they may communicate with people who rely on ASL as their main form of communication. In order to encourage her students, she was innovative and began using music as her medium.
In Romeo High School in Romeo, Michigan, Brittany Adams teaches ASL to both students with hearing impairments and those without. She became an instant hit with her students when she started creating versions of pop music videos in ASL and uploading them to YouTube.
Adams carefully selects the signs that best describe the lyrics. She then stars in the MV clips that her husband helps produce. When interviewed she said that her students were encouraged and engaged by the music video clips that she uploaded. As a teacher, Adams succeeded in meeting her goal– to stimulate her students via learning.
Brittany Adams begins the process by carefully choosing which song to cover. In order to match her requirements, the song must have clean lyrics, it must be school-appropriate, and, of course, it must appeal to her students.
She finds translating the songs into sign language to be the most difficult part of the process. She says that it’s because each individual has a different interpretation of a song. Her latest video, a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, exemplifies the difficulty of translating from English into ASL. As she explains, the phrase “shake it off”, which is can translate to “letting go” or “brushing off a thing from your shoulder”. Because of these difficulties, the couple spends nearly two weeks to produce just one video.
Adams says that she became interested in American Sign Language when she was still a child. When she was at camp, she saw a counselor signing to some of the campers. She was fascinated with ASL almost immediately because the language is the epitome of body language. Not only does a signer have to use their hands, they must also incorporate the face and the body to communicate effectively.
Main Target of Her Videos
While the primary target of her videos are her students, Adams hopes that the video clips will encourage more people to learn ASL. Through the help of the Internet, her concept is reaching out to other ASL teachers across the country. A teacher from Texas recently contacted Adams about the videos, and is interested in performing a duet with Adams.
Based on the statistics from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about 2-3 per 1,000 American children are born hard-of-hearing or deaf and 9 of every 10 children who are deaf have parents who are not hearing-impaired.
According to Adams, it is important to be fully aware of deafness and ASL because the hearing and the hearing-impaired live in the same world, and everyone deserves the right to co-exist and communicate with each other.