Events mark Deaf Awareness Week

By Michelle Gilbert

NIU will celebrate Deaf Awareness Week in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium today at 7 p.m.

There are more than 40 students at NIU who are either deaf or hard of hearing, and Deaf Awareness Week programs aim to raise awareness about the deaf community, said Maggie Cormier, a counselor from the Department of Communicative Disorders.

Monday’s program is titled, “Journey to Deaf Nations.” Attendees will learn from students who have lived in other countries and have experienced other deaf cultures.

“We will find out how American deaf culture and their native land deaf cultures compare and contrast. We will also learn how deaf culture is perceived in their native countries. The panelists may also share a few common phrases and signs that differ from American Sign Language,” Cormier said.

Deaf Awareness Week has been celebrated annually at NIU during the first week of November for more than 20 years. This year’s theme focuses on deaf awareness and culture internationally.

Tuesday’s program, located in the Holmes Student Center’s Regency Room, is titled “Deaf Town.”

“You will see hands flying [sign language] as well as other methods of non-verbal communication as you travel through the town. Participants will be asked to go to different stations that represent what you would find in a town and perform a daily activity of life using non-verbal communication,” Cormier said.

According to an NIU press release, students also will have the chance to learn sign language from other nations and enjoy performances from students signing favorite songs to the audience.

Guest speaker Suzette Garay will talk Friday about her experiences balancing her Latino background and her deafness growing up in foster homes. Garay is a professor at the University of Wisconsin today.

“What I enjoy most about Deaf Awareness Week is seeing the current students who are deaf and hard of hearing participating in these events to help educate and promote deaf awareness to the hearing community at NIU,” Cormier said.