Sign Language and Oral Interpreters

In a classroom in New York City, a deaf teacher instructs hearing students in American Sign Language (ASL). No speaking or writing is allowed. The teacher uses pictures, gestures, and pantomime to teach the meaning of a sign. He stands in front of the class, and without words, emphasizes not only the importance of finger and hand movement, but of a raised eyebrow, a nod, or a smile. The room is filled with people who spend their days speaking to coworkers and friends, talking on the phone, yelling for cabs, and ordering in restaurants. Tonight the classroom is silent but for the occasional clap of a hand, or the buzzing of the fluorescent lights, or laughter.

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