Sign Language Interpreters make hearing classroom more accessible for deaf or hard of hearing students

Jaxson Finke is one of the 121 students who are deaf or hard of hearing in the Lincoln Public School System.
Jaxson Finke is one of the 121 students who are deaf or hard of hearing in the Lincoln Public School System.(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Sep. 6, 2019 at 6:38 PM CDT
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Jaxson Finke was born profoundly deaf. He didn't speak until he was 4. His grandparents said his time at Beattie, along with cochlear implants, working with therapists and audiologist have all made it possible for him to speak.

"Without language, it's a hard world," said Sherri Erickson, a Sign Language Interpreter with Lincoln Public Schools.

Mary Finke, Jaxson's grandma, said learning to speak was difficult for Jaxson, especially after he was 4 years old.

"It was a process, and it took a while for him to learn words and put them together," said Mary. "Every day, you could just see him growing, growing, growing."

While Jaxson can hear more with cochlear implants, they are not perfect. He still uses an American Sign Language interpreter in the classroom.

Jaxson is one of 121 students, kindergarten through twelfth grade, in LPS that are deaf or hard of hearing. 24 of those students attend Beattie, Irving or Southeast, which have interpreters on-site. There are 11 full-time interpreters working to make classrooms more accessible for the deaf or hard of hearing students.

"It gives the kids access to language," said Erickson. "If there weren't interpreters with deaf and hard of hearing students, they would not have language access. You have to have that or they wouldn't be able to be in a public school."

Jaxson's grandparents said having an opportunity to be in a public school with help from an interpreter has made all the difference for Jaxson.

"It basically made him a normal kid, with all the help he's gotten," said Doug Finke, Jaxson's grandpa. "Normalcy, that's what the best thing about it is."

"The expectations are the same for him," added Mary.

Mary said the access to interpreters and being in a mainstream classroom have set Jaxson up for success.

"The sky is the limit for him," said Mary. "There's nothing he can't do because he's deaf."

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