A Silent Journey: ASL Students Get New Insight From Deaf Teacher

Talon Reporter Ashton Yeatts signed this interview with ASL Teacher Carla Berghult. Talon Reporter Frankie Lopez filmed, edited and helped subtitle the video above. NOTE: The video is deliberately silent.

Six weeks ago Carla Berghult walked into Timber Creek prepared for her second step in an 18-week journey. With over 3,000 mouths moving as students walked from class to class, the only thing Berghult heard were the thoughts running through her own mind. She is profoundly deaf.

Keller ISD offered Berghult a job that involved her going to Keller, Timber Creek and Central for six weeks each to teach American Signed Language.

“Up until now, I taught at deaf schools,” Berghult said.

She further explained how at a deaf school she can easily communicate back and forth with everyone, but at Timber Creek or any other hearing school there is a huge language barrier.

“Teaching at a hearing school is different, it’s a challenge,” Berghult said. “But, I really enjoy getting to see students understand a lot more as the weeks go on.”

For many ASL students, Berghult was the first deaf person they had met and having her teach was quite a unique experience.

“ASL III is a lot of information about Deaf culture, so getting to learn about it from an actual deaf person was something that we couldn’t have done otherwise,” junior Aleah Turon said.

Berghult was born deaf. Growing up she did not know ASL, so communicating with her parents and siblings was a battle she faced every day. Her entire family spoke, but for a child who is deaf a spoken language does not naturally develop. She had to work to read their lips and hope they didn’t turn the other direction while doing something, making her miss more than half of the conversation.

“Later in life I learned ASL and the rest of my family felt guilty for not knowing it themselves,” Berghult said. “I started teaching my mom, and now her and I can communicate really well.”

It wasn’t until high school that Berghult learned to sign. She explained that she saw a group of kids all signing and was so curious as to what they were doing that she walked right up to them and asked. After they figured out Berghult was also deaf they began to teach her ASL. She soon learned how to sign.

“Being able to sign opened up this whole new world where I could communicate and express myself easily,” Berghult said.

In grade school Berghult attended a hearing school but because she didn’t know how to sign and there were no interpreters, truly understanding what was being taught was difficult. When Berghult got to college there were interpreters provided, however for a little while she didn’t even know who they were there for. She tried to watch the interpreters during lectures but usually ended up just attempting to follow along by reading the professors lips. Once she realized the interpreters were there for her, she used them to her advantage and began to fully understand the concepts being taught in each class.

“I learned so much more once I had an interpreter,” Berghult said.

Currently, Berghult is teaching at Central High School. In the fall she hopes to get a full time job teaching ASL somewhere in the district, but is not sure which school they will need her at. When asked about her time here at Timber Creek she smiled ear to ear as she explained that she loved it here and really enjoyed getting to meet so many people who were all so different.

“I want to stay here and continue to teach ASL. I want to share my culture,” Berghult said.


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Ashton Yeatts is a senior at Timber Creek who plans to major in journalism at Liberty University. This is her first year as a reporter for the Talon.