The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

    Deaf town draws tourists

    To say a word here is the worst crime, punishable by sticking a scarlet “T”, for “Talking” on the perpetrator’s jacket – an allusion to “The Scarlet Letter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, whose heroine was punished by sticking to her dress an “A” for adultery). Anyone entering this “town” has to figure out how to communicate silently with a postmaster, a doctor or a sales person, while learning about renowned deaf people’s contribution’s to our civilization.

    The Deaf Town event was held June 6 in the Sunken Gardens from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. De Anza’s Deaf Town was started in 2007 to promote Deaf Awareness Month and has since been held to shed light on the world of De Anza Colleges deaf students.

    “The whole idea of this event is to give people with normal hearing ability the experience of being involved in a deaf person’s world and his/her everyday struggle,” Donna Bradshaw, Deaf Services supervisor of De Anza said. She wears a jacket with a police sign, playing the role of a patroller who enforces the law of silence in the town.

    According to Bradshaw, De Anza admits 30 to 35 deaf students each quarter. Five sign language interpreters work to help them. The college provides real-time captioning, which is helpful for the deaf students from abroad who have limited knowledge of the American sign language.

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    In one activity, visitors who could hear and did not know sign language had to write down their names on a piece of paper to communicate their “illnesses” to a doctor. Visitors also had to use their own “sign language” to buy snacks.

    As a reward for the visitor’s efforts to communicate with the Deaf Town residents, they could visit the Deaf Town Museum to learn about the contribution of deaf persons to the history of civilization. One display said, “Tomas Hopkins Gallaudet is so renowned in the history of the deaf people’s education that he was honored on a postage stamp of the U.S. Postal Service.” Another text said that Robert Wietbrecht, a physicist, deaf himself, invented a communication device in 1964 called TTV that captions telephone conversation into text message’s. Laurent Clerc founded the first American School for the Deaf. In the “museum,” visitors could also peruse books about deaf peoples’ contributions, including “The History of the Deaf People,” a textbook by Per Ericson.

    Though talking was banned, laughing and smiling weren’t, and a joyful, playful environment attracted everyone who visited the Deaf Town.

    “I enjoyed it a lot, it was something different from our everyday life,” said psychology major Connol Wilson.

    Another “tourist,” Hector Salas, who hasn’t yet decided on his major, said that he wished there had been “more interactive stuff.”

    Hannah Pahl, a sign language interpreter who helps students in the classrooms., said this is the second Deaf Town event. “Our goal is to make people who can hear more aware about what a wonderful culture the deaf people have.”

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