photo courtesy of www.fox2detroit.com/
Deborah M. Walker
Teenagers have a lot to do. Most 18-year-old high school teens are focused on graduation and friends. Khyiana Tate is no different. Tate will have her driver’s license soon, and just like any other teenager, she is excited about that, but Tate is no average high-school student. She has just published her first sign language book titled “Signing with Khy” in response to the lack of diversity Tate believed existed in books about American Sign Language (ASL).
“Black and brown individuals aren’t always represented in books,” she said in an interview with Fox 2 Detroit. “Like I’ve seen other books, and I wanted to see myself in a book – books that I like – that I like to read.”
The lack of diversity in American sign language books prompted Tate to take action. With the help of friends, family, and even her little brother MJ, Tate created a sign language book that is educational and inclusive for minorities. The book consists of photos of the alphabet letters signed by Tate, her relatives, and friends.
“Signing with Khy” is a way for deaf and hearing people to come together, explained Tate. Learning a new language can be fun, and Tate’s book makes learning look easy to do while being inclusive.
“Hearing people, deaf people, hard of hearing people, the community as a whole – anyone with friends and family, everyone can learn to sign, and we should,” she said.
Try something new
With the help of her book, Tate said that learning to sign can be fast and straightforward. Those who are new to signing can catch on and start signing with others in no time. Learning the fundamentals of sign language, such as the alphabet, is key to understanding the basics of how to sign.
“No it’s easy – it’s easy,” she said. “It’ll be easy because they can look at my book and see pictures along with the alphabet – the words and the signs and it’s all there – ready for them to learn to sign.”
Demand for the book
The hearing impaired and those involved with the deaf community are excited to have a book to express themselves. Jackie Thompson, Tate’s interpreter, told Fox 2 Detroit that often deaf people are isolated and cut off because of the communication barriers they face. Tate’s book is another way for the hearing impaired to connect to the world outside of their community.
“You don’t know isolation. Now people understand isolation because of the pandemic,” she said. “But people don’t know isolation unless you’ve experienced it for real. Deaf people are in this world isolated without communication unless a person decides I want to talk to you.”
Thompson has had many years of experience working with the deaf community. She has appeared numerous times with the mayor of Detroit, acting as his interpreter during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also has personal experience dealing the the deaf community; her mother, sister and niece are deaf.
Tate wants people to know that deaf people are no different from anyone else. She hopes her book will enlighten others to open up communication with a community often isolated and ignored.
“More than anything I want people to know – the deaf can -deaf people can do just what any hearing person does, and that’s what I want to see.”