Student turns communication disorder into learning experience

Paul Dalsky and Paul Dalsky

Words and phrases were shared in the Union last night, but not verbally.

The first of three sign language seminars were taught by Amber Ricker, a clinically deaf senior at the University.

Ricker started last evening’s sign language class by telling the story of how she became deaf.

When Ricker was a young child, a skull fracture caused nerve damage in her head. Doctors told her she would lose all hearing by age 18.

But she is now 21 and can still hear, although she will continue to lose hearing as time goes on.

When Ricker was in second grade, she taught herself sign language by looking at books and attending classes offered at the library. She now works at Wood Lane Residential Services, helping people learn sign language.

During the seminar, Ricker used booklets to help teach key words. At any time, questions could be brought up for discussion and were viewed as learning opportunities. She made it clear that no prior knowledge of sign language was required to attend the sessions.

Four people attended the first session for practical reasons.

Freshman Lauren Sydor had a little background in the language but chose to come because of her field of study.

“My major is communication disorders, and I would like to take a sign language class one day,” Sydor said.

Vernon Langford, a senior majoring in nursing, also signed up for the program. The second session will deal with medical terminology, which she said would be helpful for nursing.

Event coordinator Allison Carfrey enjoyed her time at the session.

“I learned so much. I think it would be great if you could major in it,” Carfrey said.

Ricker enjoyed sharing her knowledge of another language with those who attended. She used to get upset about being deaf but now uses to help others.

“It’s part of me,” Ricker. “I wouldn’t be me without it.”

There will be two more sessions which people can still sign up for at the information desk in the Union for $5 a session. They will be held in 314 Union, on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24 from 6-8 p.m.