Company offers children's stories in sign language

April 25, 2010 7:03:49 AM PDT
For the first time, several traditional children's stories have been translated into sign language.ASL Tales is a company that has reworked some of the most famous children books into ASL, or American Sign Language, so both young deaf and hearing readers can experience the true meaning and beauty of each story.

At Chicago's Whitney Young high school, deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students were watching ASL Tales: The Princess and the Pea.

Janis Cole, president of ASL Tales, was born and raised in Chicago. She told the students why it was important to have stories told using American Sign Language.

"I grew up in a hearing home. My family, they didn't sign when I was younger, until later, until I was older. But while I was growing up, I remember6 my father and mother used to share stories with my sister," said Cole. "And my sister, she is hearing. So, when we would both sit down to read a book, my sister would read the story, but it would go over my head because I didn't understand."

Right now, the company only has two stories available: The Princess and the Pea and and Rapunzel.

Both hardcover picture books include a DVD video with a master storyteller who is a native user of ASL.

Ellen Roth, of ASL Tales' marketing staff, explains the concepts of the product.

"There's three different ways you're going learn simultaneous, auditory, reading and watching visual in ASL," Roth said.

And for the deaf, they can't benefit as far as auditory learning, but they can learn by reading the language and watching it in ASL," said Roth.

The package includes learning tools, Web-based instruction for teaching fundamentals of ASL, and it can be watched in six spoken languages. All DVDs have captions.

Although the idea of ASL Tales was originally for deaf children, hearing students like 16-year-old Hilario Dominguez -- who is taking sign language classes-- find the stories interesting.

"I thought it was very interesting how there's different types of books," he said.

Cesse Teota, 15, who is deaf, likes the stories.

"I think it's good," she told ABC7 Chicago.

" This service, this book, as well as with sign, is beneficial for all. We can engage in these learning activities," Cole said.

ASL Tales are only available online. They cost $24.95 each. Janis Coles says they are almost finished with a few more books and will be available soon.

For more information, go to www.asltales.net.


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