Our Story

Austin Sign Language School (ASLS), founded by the late Fran Herrington-Borre, is a non-profit organization which offers quality sign language instruction for adult students, ages 14 and above, in Austin, Texas.

In the late 1960s, Ralph White, who was a Deaf Consultant with Texas Rehabilitation Commission, asked Fran Herrington to teach a sign language class through the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program in Austin, Texas. Later, Fran began teaching classes at various Austin area locations, along with Virginia Dromgoole. Fran and Virginia were mothers of deaf children, and Fran was an interpreter who had Deaf parents. They taught classes at two Catholic schools and then moved to the Church of Christ for the Deaf in South Austin.

In 1977, Austin Sign Language School (ASLS) became an incorporated non-profit corporation. For several years, they operated on a very small basis since Fran worked full time. Fran was the Director and President, and Virginia was the Secretary/Treasurer. Their husbands helped them operate the school. Classes grew, the curriculum expanded, and they hired teachers to help. When Virginia and her husband retired, new members were added to the 4-member Board for Austin Sign Language School. Fran’s husband, Tom Borre, served as Treasurer for many years.

Classes were held in several churches in South Austin and also in Northwest Austin and Round Rock. In the fall of 2005, Austin Sign Language School classes relocated to the campus of the Texas School for the Deaf and later were also held at Westover Hills Church of Christ. Classes were also offered at Southern Hills Church of Christ in Buda. Lexington classes at First Baptist Church began in the summer of 2010. ASLS classes now meet at TSD only, in South Austin. In the Spring of 2021, ASLS began offering limited virtual Zoom classes due to the COVID pandemic. ASLS resumed some in-person classes at TSD and limited Virtual Zoom courses Fall 2022.

Fran Herrington-Borre was the President and Director of ASLS since its establishment. She was a gifted interpreter, teacher, and mentor. She made sure that ASLS teachers were qualified and followed an established curriculum for each course taught. She taught many of the courses offered over the years. Fran was the daughter of Deaf parents, and she had many Deaf family members, friends, and colleagues. She was a pioneer among interpreters in Austin and across Texas and the nation. She received many awards and honors from interpreters, the Deaf community and the state of Texas. Fran was instrumental in the establishment of the Texas Commission for the Deaf (TCD), the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI), the Texas Society of Interpreters for the Deaf (TSID), and the Statewide Symposium for the Deaf. She held the highest levels of state and national interpreter certification and was a strong advocate for the Deaf. She was also very involved in her church and interpreting, teaching and doing outreach for the Deaf. Fran died in April 2005.

After Fran died, ASLS Board members Cathy Williams, Sha Cowan, and Tom Borre continued offering Austin Sign Language School classes. Cathy and Sha serve as Co-Directors. Tom Cowan, Jan DiMare, and Randy Consford were added to the ASLS Board. Tom Borre continues as an Advisor to ASLS.