ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – While Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) culture has been established as something of significance in Abilene, for the first time, the city is hosting a seven-week in-person American Sign Language (ASL) course.

Hosted at Cobb Recreation Center, Ann Hall, Recreation Division Manager for the City of Abilene, told KTAB/KRBC these city-supported classes are something much needed within the community.

“We saw a need in our community that needed to be addressed,” said Hall. “We’re starting to see a lot more people in our neighborhoods that are coming to us for help. So, we’re trying to open up the centers – our doors – to have people come in and learn.”

This is a course for beginners who are interested in getting to know the basics of ASL. The course is taught by member of the Deaf community, Katherine Ballard.

“Ms. Katherine Ballard has actually taught sign language for many years,” Hall vouched. “She was like, ‘I don’t know if anyone is going to be interested, but let’s try.’ And we have had a really good turnout.”

On the contrary to Ballard’s doubts, it was a good turnout at Thursday’s first class. Organizers told KTAB/KRBC seats filled up almost immediately, and some had to even be turned away.

Leah Beltran, Executive Director with Disability in Action, called resources like ASL courses ‘crucial.’

“Many times, it’s family members who are interested in being able to communicate with their loved one. That ability, sometimes, is very difficult to find. It’s difficult to find that resource,” Beltran explained.

A resource vital to success that will aid inclusivity throughout the community.

“I think it’s key for them [DHH communities], knowing that we are part of a community. We are part of what Abilene wants to do,” Beltran encouraged. “To start this movement towards having what people with disabilities need, so that they can be a fully functional part of their community.”

If you missed out on this one, another course is being offered in March. You can visit the city’s website to find more information.