Deaf Awareness Week offers new perspective

By Kim Randall

Instead of recovering from Halloween, take some time this week to learn about life as a student with a hearing impairment for Deaf Awareness Week.

Monday kicked off DeafPride’s annual Deaf Awareness Week, but if you missed the start of the excitement, don’t worry.

There are plenty of learning opportunities for you to take advantage of.

This week’s events offer unique educational and social programs that promote awareness of hearing-impaired culture at NIU. This week’s events are open to all students, so it’s definitely something you and your friends should consider checking out.

For those who may be unfamiliar with DeafPride, the club works with the hearing impaired community by focusing on four key components: awareness, networking, support and service.

According to the DeafPride club website, one major mission of the club is to “act as a resource of information on Deaf Culture and hearing loss for the NIU community through elementary school presentations, college class presentations, residence hall sign language classes, bake sales, poster sales [and] field trips.”

“DeafPride is a great club and one that I enjoy being a part of,” said club Vice President Tertia Jeppson. “We do a lot around campus to promote deaf awareness, culture and community. We always make sure that our programs and events fulfill this purpose while also offering a unique experience that many probably have never partaken in.”

The events set for this week are both unique and informative. The club is holding a Deaf Town at 7:30 p.m. today in the Holmes Student Center’s Skyroom.

No talking is allowed at this event, which is meant to allow those who may not be hard of hearing to experience what it is like to be in a “town” where you are in the minority that cannot hear as well as everyone else.

The days that follow include a Deaf Panel Wednesday to answer questions people have, a Sign Sync Thursday to showcase songs and poetry enacted through sign language and Social Night on Friday to end the week’s festivities.

“We created our events to offer students an opportunity to experience what it is like to be without hearing,” said club Secretary Rita Shadle. “We hope that the events also bring on more awareness of the deaf community and serve as a learning experience. It’s also just a lot of fun to participate in, especially the Sign Sync, which is my favorite.”

Events like these are a great opportunity to walk in the shoes of another person.

I attended a DeafPride club meeting and found it to be quite interesting. I really enjoyed immersing myself into a culture I had not truly encountered previously. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

The truth is everyone is different. We all are of different creeds, ethnic groups and cultures. All of our experiences differ from those around us. But the beauty of college is despite those differences, we are all able to respect one another on this campus, which allows for us to be more accepting and understanding of others.

DeafPride Week is a great demonstration of this. So if you’re even slightly intrigued by the events planned for the week, take time to see what it’s like.