Though the students had a shorter school day than usual due to professional development, by no means did that keep our American Sign Languages from making the most of the class time they did have. On Friday, January 29th from 10:10-12:20pm, 10th, 11th and 12th grade ASL classes were fortunate enough to attend a lecture from Mr. Bruce J. Gitlin, a deaf advocate attorney and hero in the deaf community.
Founder and executive director of the New York Center for Law and Justice, Mr. Gitlin is an attorney who has been serving the deaf and hard of hearing community since 1981, studying sign language to better assist him in representing this unique community. Along with his wife, Mr. Gitlin recently achieved his largest legal victory — a settlement with New York City requiring the provision of deaf interpreters in the city’s homeless shelters in order to train employees on how best to interact with the deaf and to install safety features like visual fire alarms.
The students of York’s ASL classes were touched by Mr. Gitlin’s talk and the work he has done in support of New York’s deaf community. After his visit these upperclassmen wrote heartfelt letters of thanks and esteem, calling him a “great speaker,” “hero,” and “huge inspiration.” Jaden Slater best summed up the sentiments of his classmates in his own letter, writing:
“What you do for the deaf is super honorable and seeing how passionate you are about law and justice makes me want to find a job that I love…Keep doing what you’re doing, making peoples’ lives better.“