Downtown Bend: Know Language - American Sign Language

Wednesday, September 20, 2023
6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Learn about American Sign Language and Deaf experience.

This is an in-person program.

American Sign Language (ASL) is an official third language in the United States. Hear from Monica Burdsall about Deaf culture, what it's like to be Deaf, the language of ASL and the benefits of everyone learning ASL at a young age.

About Monica Burdsall
"I was born Deaf due to rubella measles. I did not have any exposure to learning American Sign Language (ASL) back in those days - during the 70's and early 80's. Instead, I learned to speak English at home as well as attending mainstream public schools. I grew up in a home with ten hearing siblings where I did not have a full access to communication, leaving me unable to pick up on lots of things.

By the time the law changed to loosen restrictive public education, deaf students as well as other disabilities, were allowed to participate with equal access in regular classrooms as normal peers. I got the opportunity to learn Sign Exact English (SEE) from 6th grade to 8th grade. However, I was so lost in acquiring it because SEE is not a natural language, so I could not understand it well. In high school I was in an environment where I interacted with peers who had no exposure to ASL, so I was still struggling to catch up with learning equally.

I finally acquired ASL at Gallaudet University where I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts and then attended Western Maryland College for my Master's degree in Deaf Education. I then became an elementary teacher at Indiana School for the Deaf, including my practicum at Colorado School for the Deaf. After my family relocated to Bend, Oregon 23 years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom with three kids until I started the first of it's kind ASL foreign language program at Bend High School. I taught hearing students to appreciate and learn my language. I love teaching as it is my passion to help others to learn about my language and Deaf culture.

In the last a few years I was hired again to teach ASL at Ridgeview High School until the pandemic hit. I now work as an ASL teacher for the daycare, Bend Immersion in ASL Preschool, teaching students ages 2-5 years old. This is one of a kind in the state of Oregon. I just never stopped loving teaching."

Event Type(s):
Adult Program
Adult Program
Age Group(s):
Monica Burdsall
Laurel Westendorf | | 5413121029