Change is happening one conversation at a time and it’s all thanks to a local woman who had aspirations for a cause bigger than herself.
Jasmine Beltran is the founder of The ASL Workshop, an one-on-one tutoring program focusing on Deaf awareness and advocacy. Beltran started the online classes after numerous inquiries from interested parties wanting to better communicate with members of the Deaf community.
“A lot of my clients are beginner learners so it’s a lot of watching videos and talking about Deaf etiquette, what it would look like to make an environment Deaf-friendly,” said Beltran. “We also go over beginner phrases, the Deaf alphabet, numbers, and I teach people the different dialects of sign language because it may look different when talking to a person from Iraq, or Asia, or California.”
The sessions are 60-minutes long where Beltran allows her clients to pause and review material or request follow-up videos that can be studied after class. Each session is customized to fit the specific needs of the client. Beltran highlights focused language and verbiage that will be most beneficial to the customer.
“The content is relevant to whatever their lives are like. A lot of clients are teachers, or nurses, or dental hygienists, or parents of Deaf children so I try to form the session around their individual situation even if they are beginner learners,” said Beltran.
Only having been in business for close to a year, The ASL Workshop is seeing tremendous growth with clients from various areas across the country. Many of Beltran’s clients are individuals who have had encounters with people in the Deaf community and wish to better communicate with them.
As an able-hearing child of two Deaf parents, Beltran says creating the ASL Workshop was sparked from a personal desire to influence a more inclusive and accepting environment for all.
“I notice a lot of the stereotypes or misconceptions that are out there about the Deaf community and sign language,” said Beltran. “Growing up, it was hard to maintain confidence or pride about being a part of a different linguistic culture and I wanted to change that atmosphere and bridge the gap between the hearing and Deaf communities.”
Since starting the workshop in July, Beltran says her sessions have confirmed her knowledge on the disparities and lack of information shared between hearing-impaired individuals and their counterparts.
“Some people who know that there are different dialects, but they don’t know that ASL itself isn’t universal or that a lot of misconceptions come from not being around many Deaf people,” said Beltran. “Me being that resource for my clients has helped them become more comfortable to ask questions that they might think are offensive or rude, but for me it’s about creating a safe space for them so they can get the proper education and share it with their network.”
With expansion on the horizon, the ASL Workshop is sure to fulfill its mission of bringing community members from all walks of life together through supportive and inclusive means.