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Bus Drivers Learn American Sign Language

Bus Drivers Learn American Sign Language

The Bloomfield Hills Schools Deaf and Hard of Hearing program has once again had a positive impact on its surrounding community. In order to spread awareness and support our D/HH students, in early October, the D/HH program offered a professional learning opportunity for transportation staff within Oakland County.

Melissa Gulvas, BHS Interpreter Coordinator, stated, "Promoting direct communication and one to one access between students and staff has always been our goal! By providing the opportunity for our transportation partners to learn about Deaf Culture and American Sign Language focused on foundational signs relevant to transportation and safety, our D/HH students can have personal conversations without the need for an interpreter. This grows the bond between staff and students on a higher level: it builds a relationship of trust.”

The class included a review of foundational signs and Deaf culture norms that may be useful to those transporting students who are D/HH, as well as a panel of both hearing and Deaf staff members for transportation staff to ask questions and seek guidance on specific scenarios they've encountered on the job.

Diana Campbell, ASL Specialist, added, “It’s a fantastic idea to provide our Oakland County transportation staff with Professional Learning on Deaf culture and ASL! I feel it is important that the transportation staff has, at minimum, a basic understanding of ASL and gestures to directly communicate with our D/HH students. By learning basic signs, bus drivers are showing families that they are invested and truly care about the students. We teach them greetings, conversational signs, emergency signs and teach them about Deaf culture. All of these things are important as we work to close the communication gap and build trusting relationships.”

The D/HH team offered two classes, one in-person and one virtual. The plan in the future is to develop a recorded class so that those interested can learn from anywhere at any time.