By BRENNAN HOLMICH
Amarillo College’s Sign Language Services program, which is part of Disability Services, has been helping students with hearing impairments communicate effectively since its inception.
“The biggest challenge has been the differences in the sign languages my client prefers,” Ann Hughs, a sign language interpreter with more than 35 years of experience, said. “There are so many different languages, and we all have preferences. Also, the terminology in technical classes is always a challenge. Longevity is to be rewarded and please new interpreters or those interested, don’t leave us.”
Despite the challenges, Hughs said she wouldn’t do anything different.
“AC is my first college and the beginning of a wonderful opportunity.” She also urged new interpreters not to give up on the profession. “I love learning new things, and you will too,” Hughs said.
Jerri Peacock-Najera, Disability Services coordinator, said that any student with hearing loss, who uses Sign Language to communicate, is eligible for an interpreter.
The program offers a range of options to help students communicate most effectively, including qualified interpreters, note-takers and assistive technology.
Peacock-Najera also highlighted that Disability Services supports students with a wide range of disabilities, whether visible or not. “We support students with diagnoses varying from mental health conditions, to attention and learning impairments and physical impairments. Many disabilities are not seen, and everyone knows someone with a disability. If you think you might qualify for our services, call us or stop by; we would love to meet you,” she said.
Hughs also spoke about the importance of increasing awareness of Sign Language services. “I think the business community needs to be made more aware of what services need to be provided to our deaf community,” Hughs said. I still get ‘Oh, I didn’t know we had to provide the interpreter. Do you charge for this? Isn’t closed captioning enough?’ Amarillo College and West Texas have great support for our students,” she said.
Amarillo College’s Sign Language Services program is a resource that is meant to ensures that every student has access to the same opportunities to learn, communicate and succeed.