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TT ASLdeafined

Paul Fugate and Mercy Gonzalez are shown communicating in a hearing-impaired class at East Hills Middle School in Bloomfield Hills where Fugate teaches. Fugate and Gonzalez created the Web site, ASLdeafined, to teach sign language.


Special to The Oakland Press

Nearly all deaf children in America are born to hearing parents, and 75 percent of those parents do not know sign language.

In many families, deaf children are often left out of the conversation because no one in the family has learned sign language. On top of this, about 38 million — or half of all baby boomers — suffer from some degree of hearing loss, according to a new Web site, www. ASLdeafined.com.

With the launch of the new site, deaf individuals no longer need to feel isolated and left out of family conversations.

The Web site, based in Auburn Hills, is tailored to three main groups, parents, students and the community.

Nationally certified sign languages interpreters, Paul Fugate and Mercy Gonzalez, who both boast more than 30 years of interpreting experience, created and launched ASLdeafined in Oakland County in an effort to expand on their existing involvement in the community.

Fugate is a teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program in Bloomfield Hills and Gonzalez, a Miami native, is a trilingual interpreter who is involved with working with the deaf and Hispanic community in Oakland County. Their goal is to promote the use and understanding of American Sign Language.

“We are confident this site will encourage communication with all members of the family where there is a deaf individual,” Fugate said.

Their Web site offers help for deaf students and parents of deaf children in addition to the world community, through American Sign Language. Using videos, all of the lessons are geared toward individual learners, and provide sign language and English for those who are deaf. The average reading level used in the lessons is at the third and fourth grade.

For the parents and the hearing community, the lessons teach signing and receptive skills. ASLdeafined was created to suit the individual needs of each group. For example, parents of deaf children have access to signs concerning drugs and sex in an effort to keep parent members well informed.

“We saw the need, after many years of working with deaf children, and now we have created a solution, from a single classroom to a global community, with the individual’s needs at the core of our program,” Gonzalez said.

The membership is $12.95 a month, with an unlimited amount of access to the site. There is a free Web site tour for first-time visitors, which explains what the educational site offers. On the Web www.ASLdeafined.com

Story link:  http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2009/06/01/life/doc4a23997807bc0895699798.txt