The VSU Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services and the American Sign Language Club hosted the sixth “Deaf, Deaf World” Oct. 28.
The event was held twice that day in the Student Union Ballroom B and C, with a great turn-out from students. Some were there for extra credit, some for personal interests but all left with a new-found respect for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
“Deaf, Deaf World” opened its doors, and Brandon Gaskin, committee chairman, appeared, excited to tell the guests the rules and what to expect.
“When you walk in, you’re not allowed to use your voice,” Gaskin said.
The atmosphere inside the Ballroom was stunningly quiet—not a word spoken. Only those who knew ASL were laughing quietly and conversing with one another with gestures.
“The last two weeks I began to stress out because I was not sure how it would turn out,” Gaskin said.
Students filed into the room and sat in grouped chairs in front of the stage. Then they were taught basic signs they would need to communicate for the next couple of hours.
After the lesson, students participated in a game to test what they had learned. Club members monitored as the “noise patrol.” Points were given to those who could properly communicate nonverbally with the hosts, whether through the signs taught or even in written form. Those who spoke had points taken from them, and the one with the most points would win a prize.
“This is actually my first year participating in ‘Deaf, Deaf World’,” Gaskin said. “I was part of the committee chair in helping planning and setting up the event.”
Over 360 people attended “Deaf, Deaf World,” an increase from the previous years.
“Our next year goal is to get over 400 people to attend,” Gaskin said.
Throughout the event, students quickly grasped the day-to-day struggle deaf and hard of hearing people endure communicating with others—particularly, others who cannot communicate as they do.
“If anything, I want the people who attended to gain is that deaf people are human too, and [ASL] is a real language,” Gaskin said.
After the quiet game ended, the ASL club opened a discussion panel at the end to allow students to ask questions.
“Some of my favorite questions would have to be: ‘Can deaf people drive?’ or ‘Do you have slang in sign language?’” Gaskin said.
The panel was informative and entertaining for both the students and ASL club.
Gaskin believes the deaf and hard of hearing can do anything. He and the rest of the ASL club hope to get a positive message across about their community.
“Someone once said, ‘Deaf people can do anything, except hear.’ I love this statement because it true. We have deaf actors, business owners, teachers, etc.,” Gaskin said. “We’re not dumb and do not w
want to be ‘dumbed down’.”
Despite the great silence found within the Ballroom doors, the message was heard loud and clear: the deaf and hard of hearing community at VSU has a strong voice and place on campus.