Facial expressions are essential for communicating in American Sign Language (ASL). However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of face masks have presented several unique challenges for the deaf community.
Brian Leffler, a lecturer in the department of communication sciences and special education, highlighted the sophistication of this distinct language, as well as the challenges of teaching ASL via a two-dimensional screen online.
“Pre-COVID, in the classroom, you have that turn-taking ... I expect students to respond and not have a blank expression on their faces,” Leffler told the Rome News-Tribune. “Now with COVID, for those who are not coming to campus, we’re experiencing some challenges trying to do this in a two-dimensional space.”
Leffler adds that certain technologies like Zoom are difficult to use when teaching ASL.
“It’s kind of hard to gauge purposes,” he said. “You’re on a two-dimensional screen, trying to study a three-dimensional language, and you don’t have that space.”
Related links: Department of Communication Sciences and Special Education