GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls Public Library hosted its first American Sign Language (ASL) storytime on Thursday.
Volunteers from Conservatory ASL Northwest (CAN) introduced children to sign language through storytelling.
While storytime is a regular weekly gathering, today was the first time kids read a story using sign language.
CAN says that learning sign language can help children who are deaf or hard of hearing avoid language deprivation: the delay of language learning in a child due to a lack of socialization in the home or community.
CAN board member Dorri Holzheimer said their goal is to provide resources for those in similar circumstances: "The mission of this organization is to provide resources for our deaf and hard of hearing community because we are seriously lacking access to those resources these days."
Holzheimer adds that she feels the deaf community is negatively stereotyped, and hopes outreach events like these can help stop that.
“Unfortunately the deaf community is looked down upon, and we want to change that perception. What you bring to the table, we can bring to the table too; we want to change that perception of less worth and promote equality," she said.
If you'd like to learn ASL, CAN will be offering ten-week classes starting next month for both children and adults.
Dates and times have not yet been announced; check the CAN website for updates and announcements.