International Week of the Deaf, also known as Deaf Awareness Week, is an initiative that was established by World Federation of the Deaf and first launched in Rome, Italy in 1958. The goal of the initiative is to celebrate Deaf people and this celebration takes place annually during the last full week of September. The theme for 2020’s International Week of the Deaf is “Reaffirming Deaf People’s Human Rights” (World Federation of the Deaf). In support of the International Week of the Deaf, the Michael D. Eisner College of Education and the Department of Deaf Studies is proud to showcase our Deaf students in our Deaf Studies Department. This is to help promote awareness of Deaf community and to celebrate Deaf people throughout the world. As we all only have one world, we need to continue to work together in solidarity to celebrate our differences and make the world an equitable place for all.
Deaf Studies, Community Service Option
Hometown: Fair Oaks, CA
Jasmine is a transfer student who was initially interested in studying Theatre. However, she started taking courses in Deaf Studies at her community college and her interest grew from there. “I realized there is a need for more deaf professionals to serve the Deaf community.” She came to CSUN because she noticed the variety of courses that were offered and how they incorporated Social Justice. When deciding on CSUN she saw that Deaf Studies had a great support system and it encompassed all her interests; it was the perfect trajectory in her journey.
“Before I took courses in Deaf Studies I really didn’t have a great understanding what it meant to be a Deaf person, but Deaf Studies changed that, Deaf Studies has helped me solidify my identity.” Jasmine comes from a hearing family and she didn’t have a lot of resources as a child. Now with her education in Deaf Studies she is confident educating her family about Deaf culture and now feels closer with her brother because he is learning American Sign Language.
Since transferring to CSUN she believes she has torn down multiple barriers. One of those barriers is how she identifies. Jasmine touches on the significance of intersectionality and the impact of identifying as three separate identities: Deaf, Black, and female. “Deaf Studies assisted my ability to unpack myself…through conversations with faculty, staff, and my peers, they were able to mirror some of my own experiences.”
Jasmine’s hope is that more people take the time to learn about Deaf culture and Deaf history. She also wants people to stop selling Deaf people short, “we can do everything hearing people can do, we have so much potential, not being able to hear does not put barriers on our end.” Jasmine’s ultimate goal is to earn an Advanced Degree and work in Deaf Education Policy. She ends our conversation by saying “the rights of the Deaf community shouldn’t be written by hearing people.”
Deaf Studies, ASL/ASL Literature Concentration
Xiali Wu is a graduating senior and has an appreciation for language. He is fluent in Mandarin, English, Japanese, a little Spanish, and of course American Sign Language (ASL). Though Xiali is confident in his knowledge of languages that wasn’t always the case. Xiali’s parents assumed they had a quiet, shy child; it wasn’t until kindergarten when his teacher mentioned that he may be deaf because he wouldn’t respond when spoken to. After going through a grieving process, his parents decided it be best for Xiali to have hearing aids. Once Xiali was given the hearing aids he went through speech therapy to learn how to speak; by this point the critical language window was missed and he felt very deprived. “I felt worse about myself during speech therapy. I knew I was deaf and I didn’t have any peers to relate to in China, I was very lonely in school.” This all turned around however once he moved to the United States, he decided moving would be a new beginning and that he would learn ASL. “Learning to sign helped with my identity development. If I look back at my experience I know I wouldn’t be as successful if I didn’t move to America…the process has been life changing.”
Xiali now recognizes audism and hearing privilege. He firmly and proudly claims his identity through intersectionality as Asian, male, gay, atheist, and Deaf. He has gained this awareness through Deaf Studies and explains that he never would’ve learned about Deaf culture and the Deaf community in China.
Xiali dreams of the day where everyone has a knowledge of ASL. “I envision a world where advocacy looks like equity and we no longer would need interpreters to communicate.”
Deaf Studies, Pre-Deaf Education Concentration
Hometown: Clovis, CA
Alysha has always identified as a Deaf person and didn’t feel alone in her journey as she grew up in a Deaf community; both her parents and younger sister are deaf. Through taking courses in Deaf Studies she learned more about herself, her community and her culture on a wider and deeper scale. She now recognizes the inequities that the Deaf go through. She is now confident in her ability to advocate for herself. One of the most rewarding experiences while in Deaf Studies is learning about the power of interacting. “There are a lot of hearing people who really don’t know anything about the Deaf community and they have negative perspectives of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH).” Deaf Studies has given Alysha tools how to interact more effectively with both the Deaf and hearing community as she is now aware and accepts that everyone has different perspectives.
Alysha has a clear goal, which is to work in education. She has always enjoyed learning about the education system and has the desire to give back by improving and advocating for students that are deaf. Her next step is to earn a Master’s Degree in Education.
If there is one thing Alysha wants the hearing community to know is that the Deaf and HOH are fully capable. “We can do everything and anything. Yes we can drive and yes we can read.”