EAST Students Use American Sign Language Project to Audition Northside High School Graduation Speaker.
When Daniel Sanchez joined the EAST classroom his Junior year—2017, he began working on a project that would benefit a part of the community that he had a special connection to, the deaf community. He decided on a project that could be used in elementary schools so that hearing students could learn to better communicate with their deaf peers. Thus began his 2-year journey to create a glove that would allow students to practice ASL (American Sign Language).
The first steps for Daniel and his partner Eric Flores was to learn how to use an Arduino. This would be the biggest challenge of this project because neither of them had any experience. The attended an EAST student training and reached out to the schools’ robotics teacher for help. By the end of the first year, they had a functioning code and could create letters by bending the flex sensors. For this year, Daniel picked up a few more project partners since Eric graduated. The new partners included Alex Nguyen, Gavin Vannavong, Kobe Sisouphanh, and Elijah Tabut. Pushing forward with what they already had in place, they arrived at this year's EAST Conference with sensors attached to the glove and started the process of loading the code onto an Arduino Lillypad. There have been setbacks along the way, including Bluetooth issues, corrupted code, and having to learn how to sew, but they are graduating this year knowing that the end is in sight for this project.
"EAST has had an incredible impact on Daniel, says April Coats, facilitator at Northside." Two years ago he did not think he would be able to go on to college after graduation and now he will be attending UA Little Rock in the Fall looking to become a teacher through their American Sign Language program. He wants to help other students find the success that he has experienced. I have watched him find himself through EAST and I know that those characteristics will lead him far in life. "
Through all of this Daniel discovered that he is capable of more than he thought possible. Because of his hard work with this project, he has been awarded a Difference Maker coin at the last two Conferences and has found confidence in himself that is amazing to see. With this confidence, Daniel made the decision to audition to be a speaker at Northside High School graduation in Fort Smith, AR. Through this speech he wanted to show others what he has loved about his time at Northside High and in EAST. He came up with the idea to sign his speech and asked his friend Alex Nguyen to be his “voice” during the speech. The confidence that Daniel gained working on this project and the friendship that developed between him and Alex while working together, led to them being chosen out of 10 other students as speakers for the 2019 Graduation.
This team is leaving a project that already has students eager to work on it next year, with the goal being to get a completed prototype that can be taken into the elementary schools and enhance the classroom experience for members of the deaf community.