The music of sign language

For many people, music is a gift, one that can help them through both good times and bad. But there are also those who are not able to experience the sound of music. With these people in mind, Kei-Che Randle created a unique program, Songs to Enhance People Signing (STEPS), that teaches sign language through the use of music.

Kei-Che Randle

STEPS’ mission is to showcase the evolution and enhancement of people’s sign language skills through gospel, contemporary, pop and hip hop music.

Kei-Che, a junior health promotion: women's health major, was hearing impaired from birth, with less than 75 percent of her hearing missing in both ears.

“Once I was diagnosed, I was assigned a speech pathologist until eighth grade. I opted out of continuing after that because of the stigma of being ‘deaf’ in the hearing world,” said Kei-Che.

She was first introduced to sign language as a senior in high school in Tucson, Arizona. She was placed in a homeroom with all Deaf people because of her hearing impairment. She started to gain more interest in learning sign while watching all of the other students communicate back and forth.

During her sophomore year at UNI, she took the introductory course and learned the basics. In Nov. 2015, she received a hybrid cochlear implant. This started her journey in studying sign language more intensely. Kei-Che is bimodal, which means she wears a Resound hearing aid in her left ear and the hybrid cochlear in her right.

The inspiration for the STEPS program first came back in 2015, on her drive to work at the Black Hawk YMCA, where was employed as a site coordinator for Cedar Heights Elementary.

“I wanted to teach the youth a skill that they wouldn’t be offered if they weren’t in my care,” said Kei-Che. “I was listening to some gospel music and the signs just started to come to me. It was empowering.”

STEPS’ mission is to showcase the evolution and enhancement of people’s sign language skills through gospel, contemporary, pop and hip hop music. To embody rhythm and passion through sign language.

“STEPS will expose everyone in our community and others to sign language. It will provide a platform for all to learn. It’s a tool of communication. I love that sign language is not just for Deaf people,” said Kei-Che.

As of now this program is a one-woman show. Kei-Che has taught 30 children, 10-12 songs, and has performances quarterly. She hopes to expand this program and hire people who have the same passion as she does.

“I pray that every family that desire support finds security and identity through this program. My goal is to bridge the gap between the Deaf and the hearing community, as that’s where I fall."

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