Waiters sign up for sign language classes – Post Bulletin
ROCHESTER — Dining out sounds good, but those who are deaf or hard of hearing don’t always see it that way. Sometimes the local Deaf and hard of hearing community has a less positive experience at local restaurants. Masks required by the pandemic have aggravated this situation because they cover mouths and do not allow lip reading.
Eileen Bruns is doing her part to make these customers more comfortable when visiting local hospitality businesses. She will lead a workshop on American Sign Language to help professionals in the hearing services industry better interact with their deaf and hard of hearing clients. The class will be held every Monday in April from 6-8 p.m. at the Art Heads Emporium, 317 S. Broadway.
Bruns has lived in Rochester for 25 years. She first became interested in sign language at the age of 26 and fell in love with Gary, the man who would later become her husband.
“When you fall in love with a deaf person, you have to learn their language quickly,” she said. Bruns says she met her husband at a nightclub and it was love at first sight. They have been married for 34 years.
During her partnership with Gary, whom Bruns describes as a patient teacher, she learned some of the things that make American Sign Language (ASL) unique. She says the visual nature of language depends on gestures, facial expressions and the use of physical space to enable communication. After Bruns married Gary, with his support she returned to college to study ASL.
When Bruns and her husband visit local restaurants and other service industry destinations, a common mistake she notices is that staff tend to avoid communicating with her husband.
“The most common negative interaction,” she said, “is when someone in the service industry chooses not to communicate directly with the deaf or hard of hearing person and instead only talks to the person hearing of the group.”
“People who work in the service industry can improve their interactions with the deaf community by striving to learn how to make the environment more deaf-friendly,” she said. “This includes being able to greet deaf or hard of hearing guests, introduce themselves, and figure out the best way to communicate with their guests so that their needs can be met.”
Bruns was approached at restaurants, beer halls and at the Art Heads Emporium studio, where she is a co-owner and teacher, by people who asked where they could learn some basics of ASL to improve their service to deaf and hard of hearing customers. These questions gave life to the weekly workshop scheduled for April.
“My dad, Gary, is a loving human – funny and artistically gifted,” said Leah Bee, co-owner of the Art Heads Emporium with her mother. “ASL was my first language. Communication was difficult during my teenage years, and looking back, I think that was normal for most teenage girls and their fathers. … I always wished that all my friends growing up would want to learn the signs.”
Bee says the ASL class fits in perfectly with the Art Heads Emporium because “language is an art and part of who we are.” While the Art Heads Emporium is perhaps best known for teaching painting classes, Bee says the word “emporium” is in their title “because you never know what to expect on the schedule.”
“Learning some basic signs and cultural norms makes deaf and hard-of-hearing guests more comfortable in your space,” said Bruns, who stresses the importance for businesses to ensure all of their guests feel comfortable. feel welcome and valued.
The workshop will teach the ASL alphabet. It will also focus on “basic signs used in all fields” and “industry-specific signs”. Bruns says everyone should be able to sign things like “Hello”, “Welcome”, “Can I help you?” and thank you.” The class will be limited to 10 participants and will focus on individual instruction.
The class is already filling up quickly. “I’m so happy to see all the names sign up,” Bee said. “They want to learn how to communicate with my father and other people who are deaf, hard of hearing or non-verbal.”
Bruns and Bee hope the workshop will help people in the service industry learn basic signing skills and feel comfortable around their deaf and hard of hearing guests so they can make their workspace welcoming. .
Describing her communication with her husband, Bruns said, “we don’t have to shout to be heard.” Hopefully his ASL workshop will help more local service industry professionals learn sign language, so they can eliminate shouting from their menu as well.
Eileen Bruns offers the American Sign Language “Service Industry Basics” workshop at the Art Heads Emporium, 317 S. Broadway in Rochester, every Wednesday in April from 6-8 p.m.
Workshop fees are $125 for four sessions.
To attend the workshop, register at https://www.artheadsemporium.com/product/American-sign-language-workshop/467.