Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park said it is incorporating American Sign Language (ASL) into its Cades Cove educational programs on Saturday, April 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate National American Sign Language Day.
“We’ve had tremendous support from local educational institutions and ASL educators to plan and coordinate the day,” said Cades Cove Ranger Jeanine Ferrence. “We’re excited to work with them to make our programs more inclusive and accessible.”
The day’s activities will include immersive stations where visitors can explore the park and learn related signs from 19 local ASL interpreters, according to a release from the park. Stations include a guided walk on the new accessible path to the John Oliver Cabin, historic demonstrations and tours in the Cable Mill area, and activities based on a new Junior Ranger Activity Guide.
Each station will have a word that participants will learn to sign and a stamp with that word in ASL, according to GSMNP. Visitors can stop by the stations at any time and are encouraged to collect as many stamps as possible. Most activities are designed to be shorter than 15 minutes for those visitors who are enjoying a scenic drive through Cades Cove.
Officials said certified ASL interpreters and students from the University of Tennessee, Maryville College, Knoxville Center for the Deaf and Maryville High School will be on hand at all stations to help with the activities.
Maryville High School ASL teacher Michelle Norman worked with Ferrence and Cades Cove volunteer Judy Matuszewksi to plan and coordinate the event, according to GSMNP.
The park said Junior Ranger Activity Guides for ASL Day participants are available at the Cades Cove Visitor Center and Cades Cove Orientation Shelter.
The official book for the park’s popular Junior Ranger program, the activity guide is for all ages and is designed for families and groups to work on together, according to the park. Visitors may earn their Junior Ranger badges by completing the book and taking part in events throughout the day.