EDMONTON — It’s a first for Alberta and a game changer for deaf newcomers to Canada in the Edmonton region.
On Monday, October 17, NorQuest College became the only post-secondary institution in the province to begin an American Sign Language (ASL) Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) class.
“The goal is to help students learn and improve expressive and receptive ASL skills, which are equivalent to speaking and listening skills in spoken language,” says Alan Jeans, manager of disability services at NorQuest College.
The LINC program, funded by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, has been highly utilized by newcomers at NorQuest College for many years. However, this new offering provides options to a population that, in the past, have faced greater barriers to education and cultural integration. The first class consists of newcomers, mainly from Syria.
“The LINC ASL class will introduce students to Canadian culture, including Canadian Deaf culture, and instruct students in English reading and writing skills,” adds Jeans.
The classes are being taught by a deaf instructional team, including one deaf instructor and one deaf teaching assistant.
NorQuest College will work closely with community stakeholders such as Deaf and Hear Alberta, a non-profit advocacy organization with offices in Edmonton and Calgary, to inform newcomers to Canada that this service is available to them.