KHS Senior: A sign of the future
Most of us probably think that being “bilingual” or “multilingual” includes only spoken languages, but you can also be bilingual with your hands.
KHS senior Libbey Ketterer is currently fluent in Pidgin Signed English (PSE) and is working on becoming fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).
This skill has already opened up many opportunities for her.
“PSE is a connection language with spoken English syntax,” Ketterer said. “Signs go in the order we speak in. ASL has its own rules and syntax like any other language.”
Ketterer’s interest in sign language stemmed from her twin sister, Abbey. They both started learning, but Ketterer took it a step further. After a year of practicing and learning from online ASL dictionaries, she created an account on GifBoom in the summer of 2013 where she posted short clips of herself not singing, but signing song lyrics on her profile every day. She called her blog “TheDailySign.”
As Ketterer became more fluent she started a YouTube channel also called “TheDailySign” in Dec. 2014. There she posts full signing videos to popular songs, tutorials to some of them, and other videos. She uploads videos every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
She currently has over 20,000 subscribers. She receives thousands of messages from followers all over the world who compliment her, thank her for her videos and tell her she inspired them to learn more about sign language.
“The majority of my viewers are girls, probably aged 12 to 18, though there are some exceptions,” said Ketterrer. “I figure that’s because I’m a teenage girl, and that’s typically who other girls watch on YouTube. Also, I have a feeling that teenage girls make up the majority of the viewers on YouTube, as opposed to any other demographic. A portion of them would probably be considered “alternative”, because of the sorts of music I cover.”
An added bonus of having so many followers is that Ketterrer receives about $100 a month deposited directly into her bank account from YouTube.
Ketterer said she spends about four hours a week working on her videos, mainly on weekends. Along with her GifBoom and YouTube channel, she has also started an ASL Club in the high school. She helps teach members basic sign language through games and other activities like signing songs.
“I wanted people around here to learn and enjoy sign language like I do,” she says.
Ketterer doesn’t intend to keep signing as just a hobby, she plans to go to Columbia College in Chicago to major in ASL interpreting to later become an interpreter for the deaf. She said she plans to keep making her videos and bringing music to people who can’t always enjoy it.
“As I learn more, I’ll be able to teach my viewers more too,” she said. “Following college, I want to make ASL interpreting at concerts and other live events more common. You’ll see interpreters here and there, but not everywhere, but there are deaf people everywhere. Music is something I’m very passionate about, and many deaf people love it too, just in a different way. I’d love to be able to spend my life spreading music to more people. I feel that continuing to grow my YouTube channel will definitely help me with that.”