The Moose Project in Spokane became an approved private school this year, serving 27 students from pre-K through kindergarten with three teachers. The school teaches sign language amongst other age-appropriate topics, yet only about half of the students are hearing impaired. Many of the kids are attending because their families desired to have them learn ASL (American Sign Language) for their own personal enrichment.
For those deaf and hearing-impaired students, having teachers sign has been a huge benefit to their well being and learning. “The Moose Project employs what’s called Pidgin Signed English – where instructors talk and sign at the same time. This allows children who can hear to listen and learn through association, and for children who can’t to focus on the signing and have an opportunity to read lips.” Tuition is paid by parents and sometimes by school districts, if the needed services aren’t available in a particular district.
Kristie Anderson started The Moose Project 2 years ago. She has been deaf since around the time of kindergarten, and her son Asher was diagnosed with unilateral deafness (he was born with no hearing in his left ear, and his right ear continues to lose hearing) when he was 2 days old. She and her husband started teaching Asher ASL when he was young, but when searching for a preschool did not find the kind of school they wanted in the Spokane area.
Says Anderson, “Listening is hard work when you have hearing loss. Your eyes are straining to read lips and your ears are tired and your body is tired. Children with hearing loss have trouble paying attention. Our mind wanders because it’s just too much work.”
Read the full Spokesman Review story by Jonathan Glover here