Danny Hinton, a pastor at Gospel Community Church in Owensboro, said the church hopes to continue with its American Sign Language classes this spring.

Gospel Community Church has been offering ASL classes to the community for the last three years. Hinton said that with a large deaf community at the church, the classes help close the communication gap with individuals that are deaf or hard of hearing.

“Hearing stories of deaf children who grew up with the lack of the ability to communicate with their parents, their pastors, their friends and doctors and nurses … what we saw was a lack of access for deaf kids and deaf individuals to be able to interact with the person that checks them out at the grocery store … or their parent,” he said. “We’re just trying to fill the gap there and give people access to the language.”

Hinton said he grew up learning ASL after his parents showed interest in adoption and foster care. He said fostering and potentially adopting children who were deaf or hard of hearing was one of the needs of the adoption program.

Hinton said he has acted as an interpreter for a large part of his life and has worked as a staff interpreter for Western Kentucky University.

Hinton said he is inspired by the interest the community has shown in the church’s ASL classes over the last three years.

“I’ve been encouraged by the amount of people that have come into the class and have really fallen in love with it and want to continue,” he said. “It’s really developed into a close-knit group of folks.”

While the classes had to stop temporarily due to COVID-19, Hinton said he hopes to restart them in April depending on what the pandemic looks like at that point.

“We were hoping to start back sometime before Christmas and then, with the numbers in Kentucky going into the red, we wanted to be careful and cautious,” he said. “The plans for right now are, if it’s possible to do so safely, we’re shooting for April, barring any other massive pandemic outbreaks.”

He said he hopes to have more times and classes available to meet the needs of those wanting to learn ASL.

For those interested in learning more about ASL classes being taught at Gospel Community Church, Hinton said to reach out through the church’s Facebook page.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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