Napolitano hopes to bring deaf awareness as ASL teacher


Toby Corriston

American Sign Language teacher Kelsey Napolitano has been teaching for four years and teaches three levels of ASL at HHS.

There are 360 million people in the world who are deaf. That’s 5 percent of the world’s population that can’t hear. Sign language is a crucial part in allowing deaf people to communicate. American Sign Language teacher Kelsey Napolitano not only teaches ASL, but she is also deaf herself. This brings challenges for her.

“Not knowing if kids are swearing or saying something bad is one of the hardest things [about teaching],” Napolitano said.

There are multiple reasons why Napolitano began teaching

“I wanted a new opportunity, [and] I want to bring more deaf awareness,” Napolitano said.

While some deaf individuals lose their hearing over time, Napolitano has been deaf since birth, and she has known sign language for 20 years.

“I have [had] to work twice as hard my whole life to do certain things,” Napolitano said.

Sign language is something that requires diligent learning in order to become fluent.

“Practicing, watching youtube videos and [using] apps on the phone [are some of the easiest ways to learn ASL],” Napolitano said.

Just like all the languages around the world, sign language is different in different parts of the world. As deaf persons make up millions of the world’s population, learning sign language offers the ability to help these people in different situations.

“[People should learn sign language] to help other people in different kinds of languages and scenarios and [to help] in emergencies or other times,” Napolitano said.

There are other fields (besides teaching) that those who are fluent in sign language, like Napolitano, can work in.

“I would be an interpreter for another teacher [or an] independent life skills teacher at the deaf school in Staunton.” Napolitano said.