Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA's American Sign Language Lab serves as resource for students, Nacogdoches community

October 10, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Maggie Patterson, American Sign Language instructor and ASL Lab coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University, welcomes people to the ASL Lab by signing. The lab serves as a resource for SFA students and community members.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Inside Stephen F. Austin State University's American Sign Language Lab, a black sign with neon lettering outlines the rules, including, "No voice. None at all. Not even whispering."

The lab, which provides recording booths, web cameras, games, books, DVDs and more, gives students who are enrolled in ASL courses a place to practice signing and provides a point of contact for the community's deaf.

While in the lab, people must use only sign language and facial expressions, known as facial grammar, to communicate.

Maggie Patterson, ASL lecturer and lab coordinator, has transformed the lab into an active-learning area with resources available to SFA stakeholders and community members.

"The lab has really evolved during the past three years. It's a place for people to practice sign language to help facilitate communication for deaf people," Patterson said.

ASL students are required to complete lab hours each semester. Patterson explained students register for 30-minute time slots, which are almost-always booked.

The lab, located on the third floor of the Human Services Building on the SFA campus, is open 40 hours a week with two deaf lab workers present to manage it.

"Both of our lab workers are deaf, so people can go to the lab and sign with the lab workers. They can talk about life, do homework, play games or work on projects," Patterson said.

For more information about the lab, contact Patterson at (936) 468-1140 or mhpatterson@sfasu.edu.