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April 17, 2014

Campus ASL club promotes understanding of deaf culture

By Aaron Cutteridge

Audism is the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears, as conceived by Tom Humphries in 1977.

‘Deaf and dumb’ has been a stigma the deaf community has contended with throughout history. American Airlines recently besmirched a deaf couple whose luggage was lost when someone with the airline attached a note saying “Please Text. Deaf and Dumb.”

“Oh wow, another instance of ignorance. Shocking!”, Bethany Stahler, former adjunct professor with Cleveland State University and current American Sign Language teacher at Wiley Middle School in Cleveland Heights, said sarcastically after hearing what happened with the airline.

Stahler’s position teaching middle school students ASL as a foreign language affords her the opportunity to teach younger students about deaf culture.

“They have many, many, many questions, which is fantastic,” Stahler said, “Such as ‘How do deaf people learn to read?’, ‘Are they allowed to drive cars?’, and ‘Do they use braille?’ because they are eager to understand a community of people that walks among them.”

Cleveland State offers two courses on ASL and one course on deaf culture. Cleveland State also has a very active ASL Club that has weekly meetings and outings to promote awareness on the deaf community.

ASL is the third most popular language in America after English and Spanish.

Colleen Ticherich, a certified interpreter and adjunct professor with Cleveland State, would love to see Cleveland State become more a hub for deaf events or get more people involved with the deaf community.

When asked if deaf culture or ASL would be a good addition to core pre-requisites, Ticherich was frank with her comments.

“Deaf culture, especially, I think would be beneficial to everyone to take a course a course in,” Ticherich said, “A better understanding of what the deaf are up against because so many are under-employed or unemployed.”

“Firefighters and criminal justice personnel should all have to take it, for sure,” Ticherich added, “In case of emergency situations.”

“Change always has to happen one-by-one,” Ticherich said.
Awareness would spread if one student took home something from school and shared it with other family members or friends.

The ASL Club has a Facebook page which lists events sponsored by them and other deaf organizations in the community.

“I want to tear ignorance walls down,” Stahler said, “Start meaningful discussions and encourage change.”