College community celebrates Deaf Awareness Day

By Molly Walsh, Campus Reporter

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To raise awareness and promote accessibility and inclusion for the Deaf community, the American Sign Language–English Interpretation Department will host a Deaf Awareness Day event Sept. 28.

The event will be held at Stage Two, 618 S. Michigan Ave.,showcasing agencies and businesses with resources for the Deaf community. It will also include a performance from Sunshine 2.0, a traveling deaf theater group.

ASL Center Manager Lynn Cachey said, as a member of the Deaf community, it is important everyone be exposed to Deaf culture. Cachey encourages students to take an ASL class at Columbia even if it is not their major.

She said Columbia is welcoming to its Deaf community.

“Deaf people are often not recognized or marginalized,” Cachey said. “We tend to be forgotten because we’re a small number, but here on campus, I do feel included. I feel accepted because here at Columbia we embrace diversity.”

From the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, four actors from Sunshine 2.0, will perform a fully accessible performance at the event, according to troupe coordinator Fred Michael Beam.

“Sunshine 2.0 develops programs, workshops, and performances featuring materials that provide educational content and demonstrate the special quality of the performing arts in deaf theater, while introducing audiences to the experiences of deaf people,” Beam said in a Sept. 18 email interview.

Eleanor Dailey, freshman American Sign Language-English interpretation major, said the Deaf Awareness Day event will be a great opportunity for students to find internships, meet faculty and observe a different culture.

“Deaf theater is really fun to watch because it is super interactive,to the point where you can’t look away,” Dailey said. “If you look away, you’ll miss something. It’s expressive and vibrant just like American Sign Language.”

Cat Abood, American Sign Language–English interpretation major and treasurer of the ASL Club, said she appreciates learning sign language because it allows her to access a group of people she had not known before.

“[ASL] has allowed me to understand the importance of communication access and providing the service to the Deaf community that I want to provide as an interpreter in the future,” Abood said.

Abood previously participated in a “Voices Off Day” through the ASL club on the day of the event, during which students only communicate in sign language to demonstrate inaccessibility for the deaf community. This year’s theme is “Shine Out” to represent the versatility and visual expression of sign language, Abood said.

“Deaf Awareness Day gives students the opportunity to interact with members of the deaf community,” Abood said. “It’s really important for them to just be aware that there are people in the world who are deaf and hard of hearing.”

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