UW Health water aerobics class for deaf people breaks down barriers

UW Health water aerobics class for...

MADISON, Wis. - A unique water aerobics class at the American Center at UW Health is breaking down barriers for deaf people.

The class is first-of-its-kind for the area, because its instructor teaches solely in American Sign Language. Participant Deloris Erlandson can tell you firsthand the kind of impact its had.

“That makes all the difference,” said Erlandson, who has been deaf since she was a baby. “I don’t have to make sure I'm watching an instructor off to the side to make sure what's going on. I know that I can understand the teacher, and I can follow along.”

Instructor Amy Free has been a sign language interpreter for 16 years before taking on this class.

“If  you imagine being a deaf person, going through your everyday routine… you're all day long interacting with people who don’t know your language, don’t know your culture,” she said. “This is that moment where you can be here with people who understand you and understand your experience. It's welcoming.”

Classes are held on Fridays at 2 p.m. Each lesson costs $7. For more information, visit

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