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Sign language students benefit from iPads, app

By DaYona McLean
On March 27, 2013


Students enrolled in the American Sign Language course are benefiting from the new iPads in C.G. O'Kelly library.
The iPads will be not be available for other students until this fall because of IT issues.
"We don't have enough IT addresses on campus," said Forrest Foster, information commons coordinator.
Foster said there is an app called Sign 4 Me that teaches sign language.
"Because we don't use our voice and were all signing, Mr. Foster happened to stumble across this app and thought it would be cool," said Tamara Rhyne, instructor of deaf studies (a program under rehabilitation studies).
"We got 10 of them [iPads] out and we had a blast," she said.
The students in this class are hearing students who want to learn sign language to be able to communicate with deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.

Rhyne said the students meet either in the library or Anderson Center a couple of times a week for labs, where they practice sign language vocabulary on the iPads.

She said she and another instructor, who is deaf, meet outside of class to have labs with students.

Rhyne said students get more one on one and group time when they meet for labs.

She said the iPads are really helping with vocabulary.

"That's the one thing the stu­dents always say, 'I don't have anybody to practice with out­side of class' so now they have something to practice on."

The Sign 4 Me app has an animated figure on the screen.

Students can type in a sen­tence or a word into the search bar, and the figure will show the student how to sign the sentence or word. The figure can also turn around, so they can see how to sign words from behind.

Rhyne said her students are really excited to use the iPads.

"When it [the class] was over and I told the students they had to turn [the iPads] back in, they looked at me like 'We love it'."

Director of Library Services Mae Rodney said, "We have to bring it [new technology] to campus so that the students can learn and know what's out there."

Rodney said the staff asked for the iPads, and she chal­lenged them to find new ways to use them.

Bryson McCall, a junior human resources major from Fayetteville, said more laptops should also be available in the library.

"iPads are a matter of con­venience; you can do certain things, and there are certain things you can't do," McCall said.

"There's no USB port. If I wanted to go on there and maybe finish typing a paper, I couldn't do it. They should provide more laptops, as opposed to iPads."

Foster said there are about 15 iPads that will be avail­able with apps such as Skype, Blackboard, Prezi, Evernote, ESPN, Garage Band and imovie.

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