Ross Middle Deaf-Ed Students get ASL Lesson on App Development

Forget Fortnite. Students in Ross Middle School’s Deaf Education Program this week traveled to the Cielo Vista Apple Store to get a lesson on how to develop their very own app.

The students gathered around the workshop table with their EPISD-issued MacBook Pros, sharing screen time and face time with a signing Apple Genius. The Apple Store also had two American Sign Language-fluent employees on site to get one-on-one lessons in Keynote — the program they used to design their apps.

“Today, they’re learning how to prototype an app and we went over accessibility features,” said Arcy Aguina, an EPISD instructional technology specialist. “We really want students to learn to use their devices to leverage learning instead of using it say for just Fortnite.”

Sixth-grader Ramoncito Sanchez dreams about creating new apps.

“We’re learning to make something cool,” Ramoncito said through an ASL interpreter. “I’d like to create a game. Have you heard of Fortnite? I like that game a lot.”

The students initially walked around the Apple Store with their phones and other devices in hand to do an exercise in creating an app for the Apple Store.

“They’re visual learners and this is an impressive way for them to learn,” Aguina said.

The Ross students had already been delving into Apple technology with iMovie and using a camera.

“The camera is a powerful tool for them because it allows them to communicate in a way they haven’t been able to before,” Aguina said. “They can write out definitions, put in pictures, pop in videos of them signing words. When I showed them iMovie they were so excited.”

The field trip to the Apple store also gave the students an opportunity to practice life skills by riding Sun Metro to and from Cielo Vista Mall and ordering lunch at Burger King on their way back to the campus.

“They were excited about using public transportation,” Aguina said. “These kids have such a good school culture. They really look out for each other. That’s something that teachers really look for and they already have that in this program.”

Burges High School students went to the Apple Store earlier this month for a similar experience and Aguina plans to do the same with students from MacArthur Elementary/Intermediate next month.

Story by Reneé de Santos | Photo by Ross Middle –  EPISD