Deaf awareness program closes disAbility Awareness Week

Kristine Gill

Friday’s Deaf Awareness presentation started with a music video featuring John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change,” which played while deaf performers in the video signed the words.

The presentation marked the end of disAbility Awareness Week. Deaf students and Student Accessibility Services staff led discussions on topics including deaf culture, daily life and interpreting services available at Kent State.

Anna Ramach, a deaf student and educational foundations and special services major who works at Student Accessibility Services, began the presentation with a discussion of deaf culture. Ramach said the music video related to the oppression the deaf have experienced.

“A lot of people don’t know that there is a deaf culture; that there are two worlds,” she said, adding that the communication barrier between the hearing and the hearing impaired is similar to the one speakers of two different languages face while trying to communicate.

Christina Haslage, senior education major and member of the American Sign Language Club, explained the origins of sign language from its beginnings in France to its eventual spread to the United States.

“We feel like we’ve triumphed somewhat,” she said. “We have a language. We have a voice.

“Deaf people tend to give a lot of details and we use time differently,” Haslage said. “We say long goodbyes because it’s hard to say goodbye to each other.”

“We cherish our time together and we don’t want to say goodbye,” Ramach said.

Ramach and Haslage took turns explaining the use and function of technologies the deaf use in daily activities. These included a vibrating alarm clock, flashing fire alarms, phone ringers and doorbells, as well as video-phone systems that allow for the use of sign language.

“We rely on different visual cues for what (hearing people) use sound cues for,” Ramach said.

Interpreters Leah Subak and Shannon Mong talked about interpreting services available on campus. They said one of the difficult things about being an interpreter is remaining neutral while interpreting for two people.

“We’re there, but we’re not allowed to participate,” said Subak. “Our opinion doesn’t matter.”

At the end of the presentation Ramach asked the crowd for input, encouraging those too shy to participate.

“Don’t be afraid to ask a deaf person questions,” she said.

Contact student affairs reporter Kristine Gill at [email protected].