So today there was a fantastic event at RIT. There are over 1000 deaf student here and this morning there was a video presentation and panel called “worlds together.” It was a fantastically moving experience. So far on campus everything that involved a speaker and a signing translator, but at this event the entire panel and the event leader used ASL and they had to be translated for the hearing students.
We learned all kinds of things like simple gestures including “sorry”(rubbing your chest with your fist) and what’s up (and informal open hand tapping of the front of both shoulders). We also learned proper etiquette for interacting with and being around deaf or hard of hearing persons. Example; when they are signing to each other in a walkway please just walk on through. Quickly disrupting there line of sight is not going to throw of their entire conversation. It is more distracting to them when they have to wave you through or if you try squat/dash under/by their hands (which some people do – it’s actually quite amusing). Also, taping them on the shoulder or stomping on the ground (they can feel the vibrations) is better for getting their attention
I already wanted to learn sign language but now I am considering dropping my photo course so I can learn it as soon and as fast as possible. Otherwise there is a weekly meeting called “no-voice” zone which I hope to go too every week and learn ASL.
So far the communication barrier has been pretty thick, but I feel it’s my responsibility to make efforts to break it (I mean what are they going to do, learn to not be deaf?). It should be a blast!