"It's A Deaf Deaf World"
HC hosts Annual Deaf Studies Event
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Sunday, November 3, 2013 19:11
On Thursday, Sept. 26, the Holy Cross Deaf Studies Department and the Center for Living and Working hosted “It’s a Deaf Deaf World,” an interactive workshop geared towards students currently enrolled in Deaf Studies courses. The workshop gives hearing individuals a new perspective on the deaf community by turning the tables and immersing students in to a silent world.
The role-playing aspect of the night featured dozens of different stations—“The Park,” “The Bank,” “The Hospital,” “The Travel Agency,” etc.—where students had to communicate with the leaders on the other side of the table using American Sign Language, gestures, writing, and speech reading. This unique experience showed students the struggles deaf individuals face as they navigate a world that is predominately composed of hearing individuals.
“It was so weird being the minority in the Deaf Deaf World… Not being able to speak was eye opening, and I respect the deaf community for having such an obstacle in their lives everyday,” shared Raymond Altieri ‘16.
The only rule for the evening was simple: no speaking in the “Deaf Deaf World”—and it was enforced. A volunteer, posing as a police officer, was making rounds and “arresting” individuals who used their voices. In order to get out of the Deaf Deaf World Jail, students had to get a friend to go to “The Bank” to get money to bail them out. One of the event’s leaders explained that this process is supposed to simulate how hard it is for deaf individuals to deal with the justice system. While the event overall is lighthearted and intended to be a fun educational experience, the take away message is much more meaningful.
Responding to verbal warnings, such as a tornado alert or other emergency warning, was another daily dilemma simulated at the event. One of the leaders began flickering the lights to get the crowd’s attention and then announcing, in American Sign Language, that a tornado was coming and people should seek shelter. Hearing individuals were confused and just went along with how everyone else responded, which mirrored the response most deaf people exhibit when such an alert is announced in the hearing dominated environment. This simulation clearly exhibited the stress and confusion a deaf individual can experience.
The workshop continued with a presentation by individuals from the Center for Living and Working. They discussed various forms of technology deaf and hard at hearing people adopt as part of their daily routine. This technology provides user-friendly alternatives, replacing auditory devices with flashing lights or vibrations.
“It was interesting to see how the technology the deaf community uses has evolved over time,” stated Nicholi Gorelov ’16. He continued saying, “It is also interesting to see how their technology and our technology is converging with the advent of smartphones… which have texting and facetiming for deaf people to use to communicate.”
Students enjoyed the overall experience and found that it was an excellent complement to their learning in the classroom. By enabling students to experience the world through a different perspective, the Deaf Studies department enabled students to go beyond their comforts and understand a different style of life.