Students reach out to local deaf community

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    Twenty-two students from the intermediate sign language classes put their skills to use during Imagination Celebration’s Special Weekend for the Deaf.

    The event, which lasted from April 11th to April 12th, included several cultural arts workshops for deaf high school students led by deaf professionals. Activities included dancing with deaf choreographers such as Fred Beam, who has traveled the world teaching through Invisible Hands International, and learning to draw cartoons with deaf graphic designer Matt Daigle.

    “It’s very natural when you’re in an environment where the majority of people communicate a different way than you do to raise the amount of attention to what needs to be done in order to communicate with them,” Teresa Gonzalez, assistant professor of professional practice in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, said.

    “They’re dancing and they’re doing art, and I think it’s really cool to see them in their element,” Alyssa Davenport, a senior speech pathology major, said.

    Gonzalez said the focus of the weekend was to provide role models for the students by showing them examples of successful deaf adults. Gonzalez is on the committee for Imagination Celebration and said her connection with TCU has provided a way for students to enhance their communication skills before teaching in a professional setting.

    “When you stop to think about the tapestry of professionals who go into this field, it really takes a very special individual to be able to individualize instruction per student as needed so that every child paints a different rainbow,” Gonzalez said.

    The 11 habilitation of the deaf/hard of hearing majors at TCU earn a dual certificates in deaf education as well as early childhood general education. They can also practice their interactions with the surrounding deaf community on campus at the Miller Speech and Hearing Clinic.

    “I like that I get to help people and work with kids,” senior habilitation of the deaf/hard of hearing major Holly Mason said. “I’ve always wanted to work with people who have special needs, so working with deaf kids just gives me a sense of accomplishment.”

    Mason said she has also attended a deaf church service as part of her required interactions for sign language courses. Students also volunteer at the Goodrich Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and work with deaf seniors at Heritage Square, Gonzalez said.

    “I’ve met a lot of deaf individuals who are very successful,” Mason said. “It just shows me how much deaf people can do. It’s not a disability in the sense that they can’t do things that hearing people can do.”