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Katie is an outgoing young woman who engages easily with others and enjoys taking part in conversation. In fact, it’s rare that you will find her at a loss for words.

Her gift for connecting with others isn’t limited to just spoken word, though. Katie is currently studying American Sign Language through ASL Teaching Services at Deaf Centre Manitoba.

ASL has been something of a passion of Katie’s since she was first introduced to the visual language at a concert by Christian musician Jon Buller more than a decade ago and noticed a woman near the stage gesturing with her hands throughout the show. Buller explained to her during a meet-and-greet after the show that the woman was a sign language interpreter and later introduced Katie to her.

Soon after, Katie discovered a book that explained ASL and taught herself some basic phrases such as how to introduce herself and the days of the week. She then started watching videos on YouTube that helped teach her how to translate the lyrics of songs into sign language to gain a better understanding of ASL. Katie proved to be such a quick learner that the church she and her parents, Bev and Lawrence, attend asked her to sign during a performance by its choir.

“I think it’s great that I get to go around…and experience a whole different culture. The deaf world is really kind of neat,” she says.

Katie is planning to wrap up her studies at the Deaf Resource Centre sometime in the next year and hopes to work as an ASL interpreter once she graduates.

Her knowledge of signing has already proven to be a huge benefit in her personal life. Her father-in-law, Tim, and his wife, Sheila, are both deaf and use ASL, something she wasn’t aware of when she first met her husband Jay.

“I thought it was pretty cool my ASL was not just something I’d learn and then lose. Now it was something I could use whenever I was around them,” she says. “They appreciate that I can use it. I think any deaf person would.”

Katie has lived in Winnipeg since she was a child. She’s been served by Epic Opportunities and its Supported Independent Living (SIL) program since she and Jay got a place of their own in 2013 and says she is grateful for the support the non-profit agency has provided her with.

“The staff is pretty cool, they’re really nice. Everybody is great here. The environment is very friendly,” she says.

While family and her studies are her main priorities these days, Katie is also a member of the local Navvies Track Club with whom she trains twice a week and is a former competitive figure skater. She’s also an accomplished singer.

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