By Jocelyn Baires/reporter
More than 700 high school students, college students and citizens learned what it was like to be hearing-impaired in Travel into Deaf, Deaf World on TR Oct. 4.
Fifty-four volunteers helped with 14 different spots to “travel to” in the deaf world, including a mock hospital, a pharmacy, an eye doctor and jail. In all of these places, no one was allowed to speak.
“One of the most important parts of our program is that it gives its authenticity because of our deaf faculty and deaf staff,” said Sammie Sheppard, sign language interpreting program coordinator. “It adds a cultural authenticity to the curriculum and makes our program strong.”
They wanted students to be aware of the important aspects of deaf culture, Sheppard said. Even if a person knows little about American Sign Language, there is so much to learn from this event, she said.
“We had a really good turnout this year,” said Cece Garrett, the lead event planner and a full-time instructional assistant in the ASL lab.
Three rooms were added this year because they were “wall to wall” last year, she said. She noticed deaf students were glad to see everyone signing at the event.
“They seem to have a high sense of hope,” she said.
The event allowed students who can hear to understand how deaf people navigate the world every day and practice not using their voice.
It also gave ASL students a chance to meet deaf and deaf-blind persons and to inform a little bit about interpreting, which is what the TR program does to help build pathways.
Iridian Bravo, who is deaf, has been a volunteer for two years.
“It inspires me how everyone is motivated to learn ASL. We need more of this,” she said. “It’s a beautiful visual language and has other benefits for anyone that learns it as well.”