Antigonish man wins literacy award for spreading ASL in community


An Antigonish, N.S., man who helps run free programs educating American Sign Language in his community has been acknowledged for his achievements, management and excellence in literacy.

Andrew Chacko is the primary deaf recipient of the Council of the Federation Literacy Award for Nova Scotia.

The nationwide award is given yearly to a recipient in every province and territory on Sept. 8 — worldwide literacy day.

During an interview with CBC, Chacko had the help of interpreter Andrew Stalker, his good friend and mentor.

“ASL [American Sign Language] is vital to speak between deaf individuals and listening to individuals,” Chacko mentioned. “It’s vital that they’ll work collectively and be taught collectively.”

Stalker is Chacko’s good friend and trainer at ACALA. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

Stalker nominated Chacko for the award. 

“You by no means see Andrew trying unconfident or anxious as a result of he is been via a lot in his life coping with communication limitations,” mentioned Stalker.

Chacko was chosen for the award for his efforts to coach his community.

He has been serving to run tutorials in Antigonish to seek out individuals in studying American Sign Language with him.

Chacko began the tutorials with Stalker on the Antigonish County Adult Learning Association. They use free on-line sources to be taught sign language in a gaggle setting.

There are about 20 individuals in Antigonish now studying sign language due to these tutorials.

“Improving your ASL high quality is vital so the listening to individuals and the deaf individuals and arduous of listening to individuals could be like household,” mentioned Chacko.

ACALA is positioned in the Antigonish. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

Chacko was born deaf. He grew up in India talking Indian sign language.

He got here to Canada in 2008, residing in B.C. for a number of years earlier than coming to Antigonish in 2015. At first, it was tough for Chacko to discover a community.

“I moved from India, residing with my cousin and his household,” he mentioned. “I had associates from my church, however I wanted extra associates.”

Chacko wanted to enhance his personal abilities with American Sign Language, however he additionally wanted extra individuals in Antigonish to talk it with him. 

He went to ACALA to seek out classes. It teaches adults numerous abilities.

Chacko got here to ACALA in 2018 with the objective of enhancing his abilities, however he did not discover it straightforward.

“After sitting down and dealing in workbooks with him on English language abilities, it was fairly boring for him. We weren’t going to have the ability to assist him until we communicated correctly,” mentioned Stalker.

In addition to the tutorials, Chacko works totally different jobs and volunteer positions round Antigonish, like serving to keep the library gardens. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

“We determined to reap the benefits of web sources and train ourselves and we ended up having tutorials at totally different ranges.”

Chacko mentioned that by enhancing his personal abilities and people of others he may also help his community.

Since becoming a member of ACALA, he has additionally labored a number of volunteer positions, issues like serving scorching meals and making ready meals.

“I really feel nice. I’m extra assured, I can work, do good issues and assist my community,” mentioned Chacko. 


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