Allies to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People

I am absolutely thrilled by the recent letters to the RC-list that bring up deafness, interpreting, and so on.

I want to say a little about myself and what I've been doing. I'm a hearing, young adult woman, and I've been in RC for about two and a half years. I'm also a professor of linguistics at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., USA. Gallaudet is the world's only liberal arts institution for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. All the undergraduates and some of the graduate students are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

I started learning about the deaf community and studying American Sign Language (ASL) in Berkeley, California, USA while working on my linguistics degree. Last year, I organized a wide-world day-long workshop on "Researchers and the Deaf Community Getting Closer," which I co-led with a deaf woman who has some RC experience. The workshop was along RC lines. There were about thirty-five people there, half deaf and half hearing. There was time for the deaf and the hearing people to meet separately (hearing people worked on being allies; deaf people worked on good/bad experiences with researchers), and then time to share information, plus a researchers' panel. I'm really proud of what we accomplished and would be glad to say lots more about the workshop to anyone who is interested.

Last summer I was hired at Gallaudet and finished my Ph.D. (in that order!). The situation here is very complex, with lots of "factions" among the students and faculty - deaf, hard-of-hearing, hearing, believers in ASL, believers in signed English, etc., etc. In the early spring I started a support group for hearing allies to deaf people. At first we were all Gallaudet faculty or graduate students, but now members of the local RC Communities are starting to join. I am beginning to talk and think with my RC Area Reference Person and Regional Reference Person about interpreting and making the local RC Community events accessible to deaf people. Within the next year or two I plan to start teaching RC here at Gallaudet (not for credit - I haven't figured that out yet!). I hope that when deaf Co-Counselors have gotten the basics and are ready to go to Community events, the Community will be ready for them! There are so many ways that RC theory and practice can help the situation here, and my goal is to make RC tools accessible to everyone, and to build a thriving Community here that is integrated with the Washington, D.C. Co-Counseling Community and the rest of the Region.

I am starving for more information about the history and current situation of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in RC. I have talked with some hearing people who have worked with allies in the past, but until recently, I did not know whether there were any deaf people currently in RC in the U.S. There's an Information Coordinator for Deaf and Hearing-Impaired people listed in Present Time, and I shall write him right away. If you know of any other RCers, deaf or hearing, who are working on or have worked on issues of deafness, interpreting, and so on, I would love to be in touch with them. Also, I would be more than happy to serve as an Information Coordinator for Allies to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People.

I'm looking forward to thinking and discharging with other RCers about these issues. RC has made an incredible difference in my life and in the lives of people around me.

Sarah Taub
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00