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Newark Public Library Offers Classes in American Sign Language—
Staff Member Lolata Greggs to Teach Course

September 19, 2007
Media only, please contact:
Heidi Cramer at (973) 733-7837

American Sign Language (ASL) is the fourth most commonly used language in the United States, and the visual hand gestures are the primary means of communication for the 28 million people in America who are deaf. Beginner classes in the subject are being offered for free at The Newark Public Library beginning Saturday, October 6, and continuing for seven additional Saturdays through December 8. No classes will be held on October 20 or November 24.

Each class begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 12:00 p.m. and will be held at the Main Library, 5 Washington Street, Newark. The curriculum includes the alphabet, numbers, finger spelling, and basic signs of emotions, food, animals, family, and healthcare.

The Library has been offering ASL classes through its Special Services Division since 1993. East Orange resident, Lolata E. Greggs, Library Assistant for Special Services and herself a member of the deaf community, offered to teach ASL over five years ago. She has continued to lead these classes ever since and watched attendance expand from just family members of the deaf and hard of hearing to include nurses, social workers, college students, and other interested members of the public.

Greggs, who is fluent and skilled in American Sign Language, teaches ASL at both the beginner and intermediate levels. Her position in the Library enables her to provide "outstanding services to both the general public and special needs patrons, including deaf, hearing impaired, blind, visually impaired, and senior citizens," she said. "This, coupled with being a part of the deaf community, gives me a deeper understanding of the issues faced by these populations, and I am able to utilize my own personal knowledge and experience to enhance these services."

"Giving back to the community is very important to me, and I have proudly served as a volunteer ASL instructor at the Montclair Public Library, Prudential Financial’s Talking Hands, and at private schools in the Newark area," she noted.

Library Director Wilma Grey echoed Greggs’ sentiment. "It is the Library’s mission to provide services and access to our collections and programs to Newark residents and the general public free of charge. We are grateful to Ms. Greggs for her knowledge and willingness to provide a very special service, one that has been well received and very popular with our patrons."

An East Orange resident and graduate of South Carolina School for the Deaf in Spartanburg, Greggs started working at The Newark Public Library in 1995. For more information on the American Sign Language Program, please call Special Services at 973-733-5412 or email Lolata Greggs at or Margaret George at


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