Dixie State University has new computer lab dedicated for ASL students

ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University now has a new computer lab for students learning American Sign Language.

Located in room 141 in the Jennings Communication Building, the lab includes six fully equipped workstations featuring computers with built-in cameras and DVD players.

“American Sign Language is a visual language and ASL students must video-record most of their assignments,” said Allyson Hamilton, an assistant professor of ASL at DSU.

Amber Jeppson, an American Sign Language student at Dixie State University, uses new ASL lab, St. George, Utah, July 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Allyson Hamilton, St. George News

“Additionally, many of their texts include DVDs. Students have been finding it increasingly difficult to purchase laptop computers that have built-in DVD players, so they are struggling to complete their assignments. The availability of a dedicated lab space will be a valuable resource to our students.”

Hamilton said the lab was made possible thanks to a generous donation from Sorenson Communications, which provided the funding for the workstations and computers. Dixie State provided the lab space, wiring and internet access, in addition to painting the walls a neutral color to give videos a more professional look.

DSU’s IT department has also committed to do troubleshooting and maintenance on the computers if necessary, Hamilton said.

Sorenson Communications also provided funding for scholarships to help interpreting students pay for their post-training state certification exams.

Hamilton said the lab was the result of a lengthy process involving much collaborative effort among DSU and Sorenson officials. Among those instrumental in making the project happen were Richard Featherstone, dean of DSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and several other faculty members in the college, plus Chris Wakeland, who was vice president of interpreting at Sorenson and is now the company’s chief people officer.

“It will be very effective to help DSU train well-qualified interpreters,” Hamilton said.

Cyla Clegg and Emma Adkins, American Sign Language students at Dixie State University, practice conversing with each other in new ASL lab, St. George, Utah, July 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Allyson Hamilton, St. George News

Ann Bardsley, director of public relations for Sorenson Communications, said the company may use DSU-trained ASL interpreters for its video services.

“These future interpreters will provide important communication services to DSU, Sorenson Video Relay Service and the Deaf community at large,” Bardsley said, adding, “We are honored to take part in this collaboration.”

The lab is currently staffed by advanced ASL students as part of their course work. The students monitoring the lab are also available to provide tutoring and support as needed, Hamilton said.

Any ASL student may use the new facility, she said, but all users are expected to communicate exclusively by using ASL while in the lab.

A thank-you video, viewable in the player above, was created by DSU interpreting student Scott Powell with the assistance of Southern Utah Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center case manager Diego Acosta.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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