For parents across the city, for parents across the world, having children who are comfortable and confident in the water is a shared desire.
When it comes to her two young sons, Amandeep Saggu is no different.
“I’m finally seeing them learning how to improve their swimming skills,” said the Edmonton mother, using American Sign Language (ASL).
“They feel like they can be independent, that they can do things. They are eager to try new things. Their energy out there is great. I love it.”
Once a week, the parents happily take the boys, aged 4 and 5, to swimming lessons at the City’s Mill Woods Recreation Centre.
Saggu, her husband and their boys are Deaf.
“It feels like being Deaf isn’t as much of a barrier,” said Saggu of the lessons.
The City of Edmonton is eight months into the Pilot Project for Accessible Communication Services in Registered Recreation Programs. In other words, a year-long test of ways to help Edmontonians who are Deaf or hard of hearing more fully participate in the experiences at City recreation centres.
For Amandeep’s boys, that means being in the water with Robyn Lavender, the ASL interpreter arranged by the City to be at the pool.
“If we didn’t have an interpreter there, the boys would miss out on important information,” said Saggu. “They’d be lost.”
She said the interpreter essentially integrates the boys into their class.
“It helps make the lesson more exciting and enjoyable,” Saggu said, “because they are learning at the same pace as the other students.”
Watch and listen to Amandeep Saggu tell her family’s story, and why she said she feels “the City has listened to me and has accommodated what my family needs.”
The accessible communications services program is a pilot project that runs until April 2023. A final report is scheduled to be completed in June of next year.
Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post shows Amandeep Saggu’s boys getting swimming lessons through ASL interpreter Robyn Lavender at the Mill Woods Recreation Centre. December 3, 2022, is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Going to edmonton.ca/accessibility gets you to the main accessibility page for all City services and resources.