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Nova Scotia teen uses American Sign Language skills to share stories with youth

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HALIFAX -

Kaylee Harding combines her love of reading and her second language, American Sign Language (ASL), by sharing stories with youth across Atlantic Canada.

“If their parents don’t know sign language, it can be really hard for them to enjoy books like you or I would have when we were kids at bedtime, getting read a bedtime story,” she says.

The 16-year-old learned ASL at a young age because a family member is deaf.

Her passion inspired her to get involved with Digitally Lit - an organization focused on literary and digital practices with Atlantic Canadian youth.

From there, the initiative ASL Story Time was born.

“Kaylee came very sincerely with this idea of wanting to bridge the gap for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing,” explains Robin Grant of Digitally Lit. “And for a person of her age to have that much maturity and insight, I thought it was brilliant. So, we’re really proud of the young people that we work with.”

A partnership was formed with publishers around the region.

Digitally Lit ASL Mentor and Deaf Literacy Specialist Elphege Bernard-Wesson also joined the project.

So far, two of their signed stories are on YouTube with more to come.

It’s a project they’re thrilled to share.

“I’m very happy for this opportunity,” signs Bernard-Wesson. “And I’m hoping that the Atlantic youth understand that all stories come from our hearts. The important part is, it doesn’t matter what form it’s coming from, it all matters.”

While the videos are made for youth, the pair are encouraging everyone to visit Digitally Lit’s YouTube channel and check them out.

“Take it as an opportunity to maybe learn some ASL in a fun and different way,” adds Harding. “Even if it’s just to take someone’s order at a coffee shop.”

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