In an effort to expand the scope of wilderness medicine and the opportunities for the hearing impaired to explore wilderness areas safely and responsibly, WMI of NOLS now offers the Moving Hands Scholarship. Students who are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) or English Sign Language are eligible for the full scholarship to a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder course. WMI hopes that by equipping sign language students with the skills to lead backcountry excursions, a new demographic will add depth and perspective to the field of wilderness education, and a large constituency of avid hikers, paddlers and climbers will benefit from the freedom and confidence to pursue a love of the outdoors.
Shannon Quinlisk was the first recipient of the Moving Hands Scholarship this year. Born with perfect hearing, Shannon studied ASL as a hobby before choosing it as her minor at the University of Pittsburgh. Because ASL students “express themselves differently,” Shannon observes, a wilderness curriculum that caters to their form of communication is a necessity.
In high school, Shannon earned her EMT-B certification, inspired in part by her father’s work with search and rescue. An avid outdoorswoman and devoted ASL advocate, she wanted to combine her interests. The Moving Hands Scholarship made that possible.
Shannon is finally poised to lead wilderness courses for deaf students. Her commitment to wilderness medicine and education, combined with her deep understanding of ASL and deaf culture, enables her to introduce an important group of students to the wilderness.
For more information or to apply for the Moving Hands Scholarship, contact the WMI registrar at: (866) 831-9001 ext. 1.