Conestants put ASL skills to the test at Deaf, Deaf World event

It was fun and games but no talking at the fifth annual Deaf, Deaf World event at Caprock High School Thursday morning.


Though Deaf, Deaf World is a national event, bringing it to the Panhandle was the brain child of Kristin Alford, Caprock High School ASL teacher.

“You take hearing people and you put them into a deaf world because deaf people have to live in a hearing world all the time,” Alford said.

Some 30 game tables — including a bean bag toss, Jinga and Angry Birds — were set up in the gymnasium of high school and students earned a turn to play by using their ASL skills.

“They have to explain how to play the game using sign language,” Alford said of the students manning each game station. “Then the game incorporates some aspect of sign language. In order to be able to have a chance to play the game, (students) have to sign a word correctly. If they sign it right they get to pull a block (in Jinga) or fling the bird (in Angry Birds).

“With our high school students, their motivation is a little bit different so having games was a little bit more incentive for them to communicate with each other.”

Nikki Akins, 10th grader, is in her second year of elected ASL class and said though it’s challenging, it’s important to learn other languages to effectively communicate with others people.

“I love the culture about it, it’s great,” she said. “You get to communicate with people who just want to be communicated with them and learn about them.”

There are 76 hearing impaired students in Amarillo Independent School District from elementary through high school grades. In addition to the students at Caprock, high school students from Bushland, Canyon, Miami and Panhandle who take ASL classes attended the event along with students from West Texas A&M University.

“It’s really important for (students) to interact with other people when they’re signing,” Alford said. “There are different variations of signing and everybody signs a little differently. This gives them a different exposure … and actually puts their sign language skills to use.”