Born unable to verbally speak, John “Loy” Estes, Jr. relies on the third most commonly spoken language in the country to communicate – sign language.

Born unable to verbally speak, John “Loy” Estes, Jr. relies on the third most commonly spoken language in the country to communicate – sign language.
A native of Los Angeles, Estes was born into an all deaf family and has been teaching sign language in the Mt. Shasta area for the past 10 years. He will be instructing an American Sign Language class at College of the Siskiyous this summer beginning July 7.
Estes said he decided to teach in Siskiyou County because the deaf population here is isolated and lacks the services and programs more populated areas have.
“I think I’m a good role model to represent the deaf community,” Estes said through his interpreter/student Shari Harrison.
“It is very important for all people to be able to communicate in this day and age; there are more than 300 deaf or hard of hearing people in this county that are very disconnected from the rest of the community.
“I came here to break down some of the barriers here between the deaf and speakers. My goal is to help the deaf to feel more accepted and also to help others to better understand the deaf culture.”
Initially taught by his deaf mother and father, Estes became a sign language expert at an early age.
He said he has always excelled in academics throughout his life. He is currently working toward his master’s degree in computer engineering at Chico State University. He said he plans to continue his education, eventually getting his PhD and working in aerospace and other advanced sciences.
In his spare time, Estes has been researching hieroglyphs in an attempt to find evidence supporting his belief that the Egyptians used sign language.
“It just hit me so hard when, while researching, I noticed a striking similarity between some of the hieroglyphs and some basic universal signs,” he said.
Capable of signing in several different languages, Estes said it takes him just a matter of hours communicating with another signer to learn a new variation.
“Sign language is very flexible, many of the signs have subtle variations,” he said. “It’s easy to communicate the basics with someone who signs in another language once the two of you fid something you have in common.
“I have no problem communicating with deaf people from other countries, but with speakers it is very hard.”
Estes is also an active volunteer in the deaf community who has worked with organizations such as the Disability Service Department of Los Angeles Olympic Games, World Games of the Deaf, United Way Campaign, World Travel Organization for the Deaf and the NorCal Deafness Center of Redding.
He has taught classes and private lessons at colleges and institutions all over California including police officers, firefighters, paramedics and Air Force personnel.
“Sign language is a very important communication skill,” he said. “It is a great way for people to improve their minds.”
He said many people are confused about how a sign language class is taught by a deaf person.
“In the beginning class we’ll have an interpreter for the first class or so, but after that it’s really not needed,” Estes said. “Teaching and learning sign really is quite easy.”
For more information contact Loy Estes at jloye@nctv.com. To register visit the COS campus or call the Weed Campus Welcome Center at 938-5555.