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How COVID has affected the Deaf community on campus

VSU is one of the only colleges in Georgia that provides a community for Deaf students and provides majors like Deaf Education and American Sign Language interpreting.

Since school started on Aug. 17, students have been required to wear masks on campus. However, it’s harder for people of the deaf community to communicate with others with a mask covering their lips.

With this issue hindering the normal way of communicating in the deaf community on campus, there are suggestions that the community has for hearing students that can help with communication.

Chase Webb, a sophomore social work major, said, “Yes, there is a way around the masks like [hearing students] pulling down the masks for reading lips, writing it on paper, or texting on the phone.”

Although masks can be an inconvenience, it is understood that these masks are needed to decrease the spread of COVID-19. However, students can get clear masks so that they are able to read lips, which can make communication more convenient.

The deaf community also encourages people to learn ASLand their culture.

Jade Williams, a sophomore deaf education major, suggested beginner websites like Lifeprint and Handspeak. She also suggests not using YouTube videos, especially if the instructor is hearing.

There is also an ASL club that usually meets in the Education Center but will now meet over zoom due to the virus. The ASL club introduces people to Deaf Culture and beginner level sign language. They also have events, which are postponed at this time.

Along with learning ASL, the community does have events that are on campus. The ASL Specialty Academic Residential Community on the first floor of Hopper does have plans for deaf awareness week, which is in September.

Sarrah Taouil, the Resident Assistant for the ASL community, said that she has been preparing activities to celebrate the month and encourages other students to participate.

“Starting off with decorating my hallway with myths and facts about ASL/Deaf culture, a wall of the ASL alphabet, and a Deaf Art Exhibit in my hall.” She said. “My events will start off with a movie- Children of a Lesser God – an ASL game night, a fingerspelling competition and finally, to end off our beautiful month, an ASL/Deaf talent show which is open to anyone and everyone wanting to participate here at VSU. There is so much in store and I’m excited to see this all come to life very soon.”

Taouil will also be planning virtual ASL lessons for anyone who is interested, in which the details will come soon.

COVID-19 may have changed things for the Deaf Community, however, the community will still be trying to make things as normal as possible while keeping themselves and others safe.

Written by Kilie Huckleby,Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Lenah Allen.

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