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Deaf teen helps others to learn her language

Torrington Telegram, WY
By: Lori Russell, Staff Writer

Torrington’s branch of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program has been sponsoring a summer-long sign language class taught by program participant Dani DuBray, a 16 year-old hearing impaired Torrington High School junior.

Meeting in the BBBS office located in the Goshen County Court House and working with her interpreter of four years, school district employee Roxie Latham, DuBray covered the basics of English Sign Language (ESL), a variation of American Sign Language. Based on the signed alphabet, ESL uses specific letters to give a more descriptive understanding of each sign, and follows the language more closely, according to BBBS Branch Director Dee Buchanan who co-founded the class with DuBray.

DuBray has been a little sister in the program for the last year and was matched to Buchanan because she had some prior experience with sign language. “She’s an amazing teenager,” Buchanan said. “We’ve just had a great time over the last year.”

The two attended a BBBS camp earlier this summer where interest in DuBray’s communication style was quite evident.

“ Our youth began to express a real interest in sign language as they got to know Dani and wanted to be able to communicate with her,” Buchanan explained.

Though DuBray is the only deaf student in the school district, she signs that she “wanted to try to teach other kids sign language so they would learn a little bit and help their friends learn.”

Beginning with the basic foundations of the language, DuBray taught her eager students the alphabet, question words, greetings, feeling and emotion, basic verbs and nouns, school words and animal signs.

“ My favorite part of the class is watching the kid’s improvement,” Dani signed, and though the class has been small, averaging about six students each session ranging from age 8 to adulthood, the summer class was somewhat of a trial run. But according to Buchanan, it has been a comfortable environment for both DuBray and her students. So much so that DuBray has expressed an interest in continuing with a more in-depth session in the fall and opening the opportunity to attend to the rest of the community, possibly even coordinating with Eastern Wyoming College.

“ It’s been a great way for Dani to expand her relationships,” Buchanan said. “Unless people make a real effort to communicate with her, she remains isolated. So it’s nice to see people trying to learn how to communicate with her.”

Anybody who is interested in attending a weekly fall session of the class or in sharing a special skill with the BBBS program can contact Dee Buchanan at 532-2227 or visit the Big Brother Big Sisters office located in the basement of the Goshen County Court House.



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