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Deaf Awareness Week celebrated with signs

Submitted by Rachel Wright on October 2, 2013 – 10:47 amNo Comment

Deaf Awareness Week takes place nationwide the last week of September. First celebrated in 1958 by the World Federation of the Deaf, the week is meant to heighten public awareness about the culture and issues of deaf people.

Deaf Awareness Week at the UALR campus took place from Monday, September 23 through Friday, September 27.

The Sign Language Klub hosted a table in the Donaghey Student Center to inform students about Deaf Awareness. The purpose of SLK is to allow  people, specifically students, who are hearing, deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing to share a common interest in communication. At the table, SLK members showed people who walked by bits of sign language, have them spell their name in sign language for candy and allow them to sign up for SLK.

Michael McMahon who is an Interpreting major, and a deaf student said, “There are many students to sign to on campus….even those who only know a little are encouraged to use it, the only way to improve is to apply.”

The members answered any questions students had pertaining to Sign Language and deaf culture. Along with the table, the SLK hosted events such as a Silent Dinner at Boston’s on 3201 Bankhead Drive. At a Silent Dinner, participants cannot use their voice to communicate; they have to sign. “We like to call it ‘mouths shut, hands up’,” said SLK President, Angelina Hester, referring to the use of sign language instead of speaking.

Another event coming up is “Sign a Song” on October 29 at the Stella Boyle Concert Hall. Performers will sign songs and poetry. The family friendly event is for the hearing and the deaf.

Deaf Awareness Week informed students on deaf culture. “Being deaf is not a disability, it is a way of life, a culture,” said Wesley Baltimore, the child of a deaf adult or CODA, whose mother lost her hearing at the age of three.

Deaf Awareness Week answered assumptions people might have about the deaf community. Some people falsely assume that  all deaf people are mute or use sign language. Just because a person is deaf, it does not mean they cannot communicate by speaking. Deaf culture has traditions, norms, values, and rules for social interaction like any other culture.

Students who want to learn more about American Sign Language or are interested in an interpreting major or an American Sign Language minor can visit the UALR website at American Sign Language is also used in the Communications Sciences and Disorders Program, Speech therapy and Audiology.

Sign Language Klub meetings are monthly on the fifth floor of Dickinson Hall, where the Sign Language Lab and the Interpreter Education Program are located. For information on SLK students can send an email to or contact them on Facebook or Twitter.

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