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Wednesday, Jan 16, 2019
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Basketball player aims to bridge gap between hearing and deaf worlds

Former University of New Orleans lockdown defender and business management graduate Kentrell Martin, 32, will sign copies of books from his award-winning Shelly’s Adventures series from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and March 7 at Costco, 10921 Causeway Blvd., and noon to 2 p.m. March 28 at Barnes & Noble, 122 Brandon Town Center Drive.

Martin’s books and accompanying DVDs are about Shelly, an “energetic, inquisitive, creative little African-American girl that is a child of a deaf adult,” he said. “Her first language is American Sign Language because her father is deaf. Shelly’s goal is to teach the world and those around her American Sign Language (ASL) so they can communicate with the deaf.”

One of Martin’s two older siblings was born deaf, so Martin began learning ASL from him at age 4. By writing about ASL, Martin aims “to help bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds,” he said. “I saw the things my brother went through because he was deaf and couldn’t communicate with the hearing world.”

The books’ characters are “what the world sees as different,” said Martin. “Shelly’s baby brother is deaf, friend Amber is autistic, friend Kasey wears a hearing aid and friend Maria is Hispanic and is learning English through ASL (incorporates Spanish).”

He hopes that by introducing kids to ASL and teaching them basic signs, they will no longer see a deaf person as different but simply as someone who uses another language to communicate.

The six-part DVDs are for the hearing and the deaf.

The DVDs feature professional actors, singers and signers and includes a spoken book, audio book with an ASL interpreter, lesson in signing and spelling vocabulary from the books, alphabet-signing lesson, Shelly’s Adventures theme song video and video in which the song is signed and sung.

Martin wants to spark parents’ interest in ASL, too, as they pick up signs while reading and viewing Shelly’s Adventures with their children.

More than “90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents,” he said. “Unless parents have resources or a deaf community nearby, they typically don’t learn much ASL and children end up without a language when they enter school. Schools bring in interpreters, but if kids don’t know ASL, they can’t understand what is being signed.”

The 6-foot, 4-inch tall Martin lives in Land O’ Lakes with his wife and two young sons, who are learning ASL.

He is developing a Shelly’s Adventures cartoon series and has written more than 20 Shelly’s Adventure books, two of which, with corresponding DVDs, are already released: “Shelly’s Outdoor Adventure” and “Shelly Goes to the Zoo.”

Shelly’s Adventures books are available online at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble .com and www.shellys adventuresllc.com.

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