LCTL Student Spotlight: Meet Kendall

Kendall Johnson is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Chemistry, who will be applying to the ASL certificate program. Below, Kendall shares how his interest in ASL developed and how he plans to incorporate the language into his future career in medicine!

Why did you choose Pitt?

I love the community and the city of Oakland, along with the numerous opportunities available in many different disciplines.

Are you a member of any organizations on campus?

Pitt Cheer, Controlled Chaos, FROGS, BRIDGES

Did you have any previous second-language exposure before coming to Pitt?

I took three years of Spanish in High School

How did you become interested in studying American Sign Language?

I was taught the Pledge of Allegiance in ASL while tutoring at an elementary school, and I instantly fell in love with it and wanted the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the language. I would arrive early to my tutoring sessions just so I could practice and use the signs I knew.

How does studying this language fit into your future plans?

I plan to work in medicine and hope to use my language skills to treat Deaf patients and help them to have the best experience possible. I have heard of many experiences of Deaf patients not being able to get the services they need due to either interpreters not doing their job properly or the staff not treating patients fairly due to the language barrier. I want to help eliminate this, as Deaf patients deserve the same right to treatment as everyone else.

What has been your best experience using this language?

Being able to practice with friends and show my mom what I have learned in such a little time!

What is the greatest challenge with learning this language?

Glossing and understanding the differing structure of this language. Glossing is a tool used to help students learning ASL understand the structure of the language. It can be challenging because it incorporates not only the words signed, but also any facial expressions, mouthing, and other aspects of the language used. At first, it can be difficult, but it gets easier the more you practice.

What has knowing/ studying this language allowed you to do that you would not have been able to do otherwise?

It has allowed me to understand a new culture that I previously knew nothing about.