MR. AJANI SIGNS IN The ASL Program returns with new teacher Mr. Ajani Edwards

For the first time in 11 years, Paso Robles High School is offering a ASL (American Sign Language) program, headed by new teacher Mr. Ajani Edwards. The school decided to remove ASL from the school’s curriculum in 2013 after various controversies, and now, the admin has brought it back, hoping to offer a new opportunity for future students enrolling for a world language to fulfill their language requirement to graduate.

Ajani, who will go by his first name in the classroom (In the Deaf Community, people go by their first names) is from New York and moved to California 20 years ago with his wife, Mrs. Edwards. He originally pursued the career of electrical engineering but soon realized it wasn’t his path after quickly getting “kind of bored” of it. Mrs. Edwards was the one who suggested taking ASL as an elective in college. Ajani agreed openly to the idea, and took the elective, which later inspired him to pursue interpreting for the following 12 years.

“She convinced me because I love the arts, music, and movies, and that’s incorporated (in ASL)... ASL is an art. (It’s) not only culture for Deaf/Hard of Hearing people, it’s interpretive,” Ajani said, “That’s interesting.”

Moving forward in his first year, to grow as an individual, Ajani is focusing on improving the content he is doing with his students. He claims to be a student in the area as well; he learns through communicating in Sign Language with the students. He is working on improving as a teacher to overall understand his students better and is currently striving to complete his single subject credential and masters courses.

Taking on the job of an interpreter, Ajani believes that ASL opens up the students’ minds in awareness to more languages, cultures, and equips students for their future adult lives to be more accepting towards people’s differences. Ajani’s work gives students the tools to be able to apply this language into their career as “ they continue on any career path, having bilingual or trilingual skills opens the door for accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing,” Ajani said.

In a world where deaf and hard of hearing people are told they can’t, They believe in can-do perspectives. The only thing they can’t do is hear. - AJANI

According to Mr. Ajani, he entered PRHS as the ASL teacher on Feb. 1, 2024 and was prepared to take students in and get them started with new skills and curriculum. Briefing over the structure of their ethical learning methods such as: reforming the classroom’s desk layout into a circle or horseshoe shape to make it visibly interactive and inclusive, engage in collaborative work and focus on projects involving diversity, awareness, and equity, and using less oral communication as their sign language progresses

“When we speak and sign at the same time, it’s called simultaneous communication. And throughout the year, oral language will diminish as the students are increasing their ASL skills,” Ajani said.

Ajani is actively communicating how important it is to acknowledge the language and that students begin to recognize that as they learn ASL, they are essentially guests of the language and must respectively show that when using the language.

“There might be some native speakers…we would have to make sure that we acknowledge that person that they are a native speaker and respond to them. We’re guest users of the language. ASL is not our first language. So if they respect that, we must show when we’re using the language,” Ajani said.

For Ajani, he was able to form connections while studying the language and it allowed him to not only re-continue this program, but allow students to form connections with another culture and community. Ajani says that to ensure that his students understand the importance of formalities and diversity within the culture and language of Deaf/Hard of Hearing (ASL).




When a Deaf person is present you must announce that you are learning ASL and try to sign instead of talk.

When leaving an event, one must acknowledge everyone before departing.

Full responses

No one word responses.

Physically walking through two people conversing is appropriate

Walking around them is considered rude in Deaf Culture.

Mr. Ajani runs a company called Baby Sign Sessions- a family-owned local small business (located in Santa Barbara County) that teaches Baby Sign & ASL for parents and kids! Mr. Ajani and Mrs. Edwards discovered through research that babies communicate to their parents even though they can’t speak. He guides parents in order to bridge a connection to keep the bond between parent and child intact through signals, body language, and ASL! The company donates 10% to their local Deaf and hard-of hearing organizations because ASL is not his native language. They also offer free services for parents with Deaf and/or hard-of-hearing children beacause it is their language. Recent reviews on their website Baby Sign Sessions claim that Ajani is very skilled and adaptive: “Ajani is so knowledgeable and attuned to babies and their body language! His adaptation of ASL to baby sign is extensive and intuitive in the moment. I learned so much about my child and communicating with him in a short period of time and was able to bring that learning home to the rest of our family. Highly recommend!”

Ajani said “Babies cry all the time. Frustration happens when we can’t express ourselves…” and examples to communicate with babies are through “kicking their legs a little and thrusting forward with their body. However, being that it’s a baby...we actually educate the parents and not the babies.”

Ajani is proven to be welcomed and very appreciated by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. After 12 years of interpreting and becoming a professional in his field, he continues to strive in teaching and spreading the culture of ASL in Paso Robles High School, room 1015.