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VCC celebration marks milestone in ASL, Deaf studies

Posted on September 11, 2019

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Originally published in Star Metro Vancouver

On Saturday, Sept. 28, Vancouver Community College (VCC) will celebrate its history as a leading educator in American Sign Language Studies (ASL) when it commemorates 45 years of service through the Deaf and hard of hearing, ASL and Deaf studies, and visually impaired programs, as well as interpreting services.  

The celebration will not only coincide with International Week of the Deaf, which starts Sept. 23, but also comes on the heels of the historic June passing of Bill C-81 (the Accessible Canada Act) — which recognizes ASL, Langue des signes du Québec, and Indigenous Sign Language as primary languages for Canada’s Deaf community.  

“We are expecting 200 people or so who will gather, socialize, network, and then attend a gala with a dinner,” says Aastrid Evensen, an instructor in VCC’s Deaf and hard of hearing department and member of the 45th Anniversary Gala committee, through a video relay service interpreter. “For the anniversary event, my favourite part is reminiscing with old friends and seeing old and young come together to celebrate our history and heritage.”  

With the needs of the Deaf community continuing to spread as the Accessible Canada Act ensures people have more access to visual language and communication options, VCC currently offers a 10-month ASL and Deaf studies certificate program. The full-time offering is designed for non-Deaf adults who have learned some basic ASL skills but wish to study the language more intensely with an aim to develop fluency. It also exposes them to Deaf culture and the Deaf community, develops communication and public speaking skills, and examines career development opportunities. Many graduates choose to pursue interpreting careers.

“A lot of people don’t realize that interpreting ASL is a profession, so we have a lot of need in the community,” says Evensen, “and we are wanting to grow our diversity to meet the needs of diverse Deaf Canadians as well.”  

To further accessibility to and awareness of its ASL and Deaf studies programs, in early 2020, VCC will explore offering online training options. 

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Join us on Saturday, Sept. 28 at VCC’s 45th anniversary celebration of Deaf and hard of hearing, ASL, visually impaired, and interpreting programs. Tickets are $45 each and available now