Vancouver's Nigel Howard paves the way by teaching UBC's first ASL course

Until this fall, no accredited ASL courses have been taught at the university

Enthusiastic and expressional, Nigel Howard has risen in the ranks of public esteem since he first interpreted Dr. Bonnie Henry’s live, televised provincial COVID-19 briefings.

The Vancouver resident has communicated the complicated details around the pandemic to B.C.'s Deaf community. He's done so with an unmatched gusto that’s seen a Facebook fan page pop up in his honour.

article continues below

As a United Nations Deaf interpreter, teacher, and treasurer for the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters, Howard is about to add another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments.

In September, he will instruct the University of British Columbia’s first accredited American Sign Language (ASL) course that students can take for credit towards their degrees.

Howard has taught a pilot course 'Topics in Linguistics’ to UBC’s extended learning students since 2018, but no ASL course has been made available to the rest of the student body.

Howard thinks the introduction of two ASL courses has a “huge” potential for impact. Specifically, he believes it could work to erase preconceptions society has about people who are deaf.

“A common misconception was that being deaf was an audiological or medical experience, rather than a cultural one,” Howard elaborated.

“Imagine the scenario where a doctor tells parents their child has 'failed' a hearing test, a negative connotation that can affect the parent-child relationship. We need to shift the lens – your child is healthy and deaf.”

UBC students in the medical and educational fields could benefit from a better understanding of Deaf culture, Howard said. Ultimately, it could lead to changes in how people who are deaf are portrayed in media and society.

“We’re offering language, not a disability,” Howard emphasized.

As of now, the classes are capped at 30 students – but with more interest from students, the number of ASL classes offered could grow to include higher-level courses, added UBC linguistics professor Strang Burton.

Read Related Topics

© North Shore News

Read more from the Vancouver Is Awesome

Report a Typo or Error

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The North Shore News welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Popular News

Community Events Calendar