The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Student advocates assistance for deaf, hard-of-hearing

By Shelly Williams/se news editor

Silence. Some people wanting to get the word out about the deaf community find that many are too busy to listen.

SE Campus student Heidi Swan has been struggling since last semester to raise awareness about the deaf community and help them become more involved around SE Campus.

She feels that a lack of available technology keeps deaf students from getting more involved.

Swan said the science lab, computer lab, library and information desk have limited communication for the deaf.

Access to a Video Relay Service machine is not the same as a hearing person who can go to another hearing person to ask for help for specific things, Swan said. Deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired individuals use the service to communicate by the phone in real-time, using a sign language interpreter.

“If an emergency happens, an interpreter would have to be called, and it could be the difference of a life-or-death situation,” she said. “Furthermore, it’s a very lonely situation to be in when you are limited to the friends you have because of the communication block. The campuses need to become more deaf-friendly.”

According to library manager Andrew Strohschein, the library has two VRS machines available for the hearing-impaired, yet most of what the library has is for those who are visually impaired.

“Most libraries are text-based, so I guess that’s why I’ve never really thought about it in that way,” he said. “Most of our stuff is centered on those who have visual impairments because more or less you’re reading text on a page, reading text on a screen or looking at the books.”

Strohschein said the library would welcome suggestions for equipment or software purchases.

Swan said more deaf people might take an interest in furthering their education if more interest were taken in them and their needs.

“We would not understand the deaf world until it happened to us or someone close to us,” Swan said as she described what inspired her to help raise awareness.

Disability Support Services on each campus offers several services to students who register with their office.

Joan Moyer, SE DSS coordinator, said her office is involved in the deaf community as it relates to the students registered with DSS for any given semester.

“Interpreters for student activity-related events must be scheduled through student services,” she said. “I will provide interpreters if it is an event that a student must attend in order to meet course requirements.”

Nita Haliburton, student development coordinator, said whenever SE Campus holds an event organizers know a deaf student will attend, she works with Moyer to have an interpreter available.

Swan thinks other students should get involved.

“I have deaf friends, and I know their struggles. I have enjoyed the deaf community from Dallas to Fort Worth, particularly the deaf seniors,” she said. “They have taught me a lot, and I will continue seeking ways and services to help them.”

Swan said others can help by inviting the deaf community to special events such as job fairs, Cultural Diversity Month activities and anything else that gives rise to learning from them and better accommodating them.

“When the hearing community learns more about them, then we can have a heart in reaching out to them wherever we may. We can be a bridge and not a dead-end street,” she said. “We can learn and grow in the knowledge from them, and they can do the same. We need to know their struggles so that we can stand together.”

SE vice president for student development services Rusty Fox said the campus is actively involved with deaf students and works diligently to ensure they receive the appropriate accommodations.

“Because we have very limited funding, we have to make certain that our students are our first priority.  So all of our interpreting services have currently enrolled students as our sole customer,” he said. “When the situation has allowed in the past, we’ve accommodated deaf family members/friends as interpreters were available and as budgets allowed.

“But that was a courtesy for our students as they remain our sole focus, both by law and by our priority. We greatly value the deaf students who have enrolled at SE Campus and enjoy working and learning with them very much.”

Fox said that while non-students must rely on agencies and services outside the campus because of law and funding, SE always welcomes deaf community members to participate and enroll for courses on the campus.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian