Dr. Bonnie Henry's popular sign-language interpreter teaching UBC classes this fall | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Dr. Bonnie Henry's popular sign-language interpreter teaching UBC classes this fall

Nigel Howard is teaching UBC ASL courses this fall. He is well-known as Dr. Bonnie Henry's sign language interpreter during her media briefings.
Image Credit: UBC
September 09, 2020 - 6:00 AM

You can learn how to be a sign-language interpreter this fall by studying with Dr. Bonnie Henry's beloved interpreter, Nigel Howard.

Howard can be seen during the provincial health officer's COVID-19 live-streamed briefings. He's even got his own fan club with 4,000 followers, as of Sept. 8.

READ MORE: Provincial health officer’s sign language interpreter gets a fan club page with 2,000 followers

This week, UBC students will be taking American Sign Language as an official credit course with him. And when a second section of his ASL 100 class for term one was created, it filled up within five days. Howard said offering ASL courses at UBC has the potential for huge impact, and a positive role within other departments.

In ASL 100, students learn core grammar and vocabulary, as well as the connection between language and deaf culture, according to a UBC news release.

"ASL is similar to other signed languages such as British, Japanese, Russian in that they are very much three-dimensional. It is a physically visual language using space in front of you to convey complex and sophisticated discourse. Also, it may not be possible to incorporate deaf norms for things such as attention getting, conversational openers, and back-channelling," Howard said in the release.

It's important that UBC offers these classes as it has both medical and educational schools, so students can benefit from a better understanding of deaf culture, he said in the news release.

During COVID-19, the general population has become more "intrigued" about the language and culture, however while teaching ASL classes in Victoria, the classes have always been popular and had sufficient waitlists, Howard said in the news release.

"For too long, there had been no sign language interpreters on television or in any other form of media. People have the assumption that reading closed captioning would be more than adequate, not realizing that the majority of deaf people consider ASL as their primary language and English as their second language. The closed captioning does not convey, for example, the nuances and intensity of the messages," he said in the news release.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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