Carroll college to begin Deaf Awareness Week salute

Western Md. to welcome Miss Deaf America

March 25, 2001|By Pepper Ballard | Pepper Ballard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Deaf celebrities and performers will showcase their talents and experiences during Western Maryland College's Deaf Awareness Week tomorrow through Friday.

The events begin at noon tomorrow with an hourlong visit by Lauren Teruel, named Miss Deaf America in July. Serving through 2002, the Chicago native, representing Illinois in the biennial pageant sponsored by the National Association of the Deaf, is the second consecutive Cal State-Northridge graduate to win the crown.

An all-male, African-American, deaf dance troupe, the Wild Zappers, will perform a jazz/funk/hip-hop routine at 7 p.m. Tuesday. General admission is $5.

WMC will present its version of "It's a Deaf, Deaf World," in addition to its other performers, where visitors without hearing problems can experience life in a simulated deaf town.

"It's a Deaf, Deaf World" will feature a "hearing cop" who deducts points for any sound made while visiting "Deaf Town." The program will be presented from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday in Ensor Lounge.

WMC has a large graduate program in teacher training for deaf education. The college's American Sign Language laboratory manager, David Martin, is coordinating the awareness celebration.

He said he would like to see a more active promotion by students of the program and deaf culture, both on and off campus.

"We hope to increase awareness for hearing persons who have limited experience with the deaf community," said Martin, one of two deaf instructors who joined the department this year.

Although the National Association of the Deaf holds its official awareness celebration in mid-September, Martin said he felt March was a good time for the WMC activities.

Martin said the March 1998 protests at Gallaudet University have been recognized as the beginning of a real push for deaf awareness.

Martin was a student at Gallaudet at the time of the organized demonstrations that led to the appointment of Gallaudet's first deaf president, I. King Jordan.

"From those protests came increased employment and access and educational opportunities across the nation. It really heightened sensitivity to the needs of the deaf community," Martin said.

Martin, who became deaf at age 3 after a nearly deadly bout with meningitis, said he always takes time to remind his American Sign Language students about the Gallaudet protests. He said many of his students were too young at the time of the demonstrations to realize their importance.

On the undergraduate level, Western Maryland College developed a Deaf Studies minor this year, and students formed Sounds of Silence, a student advocacy group. SOS is helping to coordinate Deaf Awareness Week activities.

The college also received a $1.5 million Department of Education grant in 2000 to promote its bilingual-bicultural philosophy through various programs, including community American Sign Language classes and workshops at schools and organizations such as Rotary and Lions clubs.

"I always ask my hearing ASL students why they are taking the class," Martin said. "Right now, I have two students who also are college staff members. I think it's so neat that they are learning sign language so they can communicate with our deaf students. Awareness is a real community effort."

Deaf Awareness Week at Western Maryland College is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Office of Multicultural Studies, the Deaf Education Program and Sounds of Silence.

Information: David Martin at dmartin@wmdc.edu, or 410-857- 2507 or 410-857-2527 (TTY).

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