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Airdrie Public Library introducing American Sign Language story times this week

ASL is coming to APL this week.
Airdrie public library
File Photo/Rocky View Publishing

ASL is coming to APL this week.

On March 9 and 10, certified American Sign Language (ASL) instructor Shanny Haider will be teaching young participants at Airdrie Public Library the ASL alphabet and other basic expressions, while signing along during APL's weekly story times.

According to APL junior programmer Lori Harahap, this will mark the first time Airdrie's public library has introduced ASL education into its programming.

“We have done baby sign language in the past, but this is the first time we’ve had someone come from the deaf community and offer their services to APL,” she said.

Harahap explained that Haider is an Airdrie resident who owns an education company called ASL Connections alongside her husband. 

“Both she and her husband have been deaf their whole lives,” Harahap said. “It’s really important for her and the deaf community that ASL is taught by people who are deaf, because if you have people who aren’t deaf, they’re basically translating ASL into English.” 

Through an ASL interpretation service, Haider told the Airdrie City View she has been teaching ASL for 35 years.

She said learning a few basic signs is useful for people of all ages, but that being exposed to sign language at a young age is particularly beneficial.

“I’m really excited and looking forward to meeting some of the kids at the library, and taking some basic signs and things they can then teach their friends at school as well,” she said, adding kids who learn how to sign when they are young can take those abilities into adulthood.

“They might use it for communication with people in the public if they’re working in a job where they might have customers who are deaf,” she said.

The motivation behind bringing ASL to the library, according to Harahap, is to expose local youth to something they may have not experienced before.

The March 9 story time is geared toward youth ages six to nine, while the March 10 session is catered toward kids 10 and older.

Harahap pointed out there will also be a question-and-answer period following the story times, and Haider's daughter – a local high-school student in Airdrie – will translate for her parents.

“It will give the kids a chance to ask Shanny and her daughter any questions they have about their home life and what it’s like for the daughter to grow up with deaf parents,” she said “It’s just open dialogue, open communication, and they can ask any question.”

Both story times will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. To register, visit and click on the programs and events tab. The March 9 session is listed under school-aged programming, while the March 10 session is under teen programs.

Harahap added if there is a good response from the public, APL will look to offer the ASL story times again in the future.

“I think it’s really important to learn about different communities,” she said. “It really helps them learn about how different people live and be exposed to different things – and to be able to accept those differences as well and understand that differences are not something to be wary of.

“A lot of times, when we don’t know something and we’re ignorant of something, that gets in the way of our connections with people.”

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