PEORIA, IL -- WMBD/CNN: Inside the library at Mark Bills School, class begins with the Pledge of Allegiance. But here, they’re doing things a little differently.
Students are using American Sign Language to say the pledge.
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“It’s like they want to be like me,” said fifth-grader Rhemy Elsey, who was born almost completely Deaf. A set of cochlear implant help him hear, but he relies heavily on sign language and his interpreter, Tammy Arvin, to communicate.
“It’s tough for a kid that has an interpreter,” Arvin said. “Following them around all day, you know, especially if the rest of the class can’t really communicate.”
Rhemy’s classmate Dexyrae Clarke said, “I wanted to be able to talk to Rhemy, and I wanted to be able to communicate with him.”
That’s how the American Sign Language Club was born at the school - with a group of students who wanted to be able to talk to a friend.
“I was thrilled that they were interested and that they wanted to learn some sign language,” Arvin said, “and that they were taking some initiative to able to communicate more effectively with one of their classmates.”
And this is not like their Spanish or French classes - students say they are finding there’s a lot that goes into learning this language, and things aren’t always easy. Tabria Smith explained the difficulty.
“Sometimes you really want to talk while you’re signing, but then you have to get used to just using your hands instead of your mouth to communicate with other people,” Tabria said.
But in Rhemy, they have a teacher and friend, showing them that so much can be said without saying anything at all. “It makes me feel, like, happy,” Rhemy said. SOURCE