Family Focus: Sign Language - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Family Focus: Sign Language

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Sign language may be silent, but the impact it has is loud. The North Dakota State University Extension Service offers many different classes in our area to help people better communicate with those who are non-verbal.

 Megan Erickson and her family fill a handful of seats in one of the sign language classes taught by the NDSU Extension Service.

For the Erickson family, it's been hard finding out that baby Olivia was born with severe to profound deafness in both ears. Not because it's a bad thing, but because no one in the family is deaf.

Although at first they had no explanation of how this happened, it was critical to the family to be able to communicate with her.

"If you're a parent and you have children, I think you are going to do everything in your power to let them grow up with a normal life. Whether that means learning sign language or any other option," Megan says.

The sign language class they attend uses many different types of teaching methods. From games, to tests, they continue to learn.

As a sign language teacher, Jolene Haffner says that learning new ways to communicate is important.

"It just opens the door. If someone is deaf and only uses sign language to communicate, their circle of friends or people they can communicate with is quite small. The more people that can learn sign language, that just opens the door for them," says Haffner.

 Although Olivia can't hear the word love her mother is confident she can feel it.

 "I know that she is feeling that I love her, and now I can say it with my hands," Megan says.

 For now, this close-knit family has a new purpose, to learn an old language.

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