"I thought the week went very well," Wilder said. "The
whole idea was to celebrate abilities, to talk to ourselves about how
respectful we are about all of our students with different abilities and
disabilities and to showcase what can be done, what is being done, what they
can do and what they are doing to achieve."
Interpreter Coordinator Rosemary Landa estimated that
about 140 people attended the third annual American Sign Language Talent
"We are coming together to celebrate the ASL language, to
celebrate the deaf culture," Landa said the evening of the show. "It’s like
a big powwow to reinforce the idea that deaf people and hearing people are
The show, which served as a fundraiser for the Sting ’em
Sign Club, consisted of 19 acts, with jokes by master of ceremonies Eric
Martinez in between. Staff interpreter Julie Armendariz translated for the
Sting ’em Sign Club Vice President Isidro Ramos’ comedy
acts included jokes about hearing aids and a smart-aleck interpreter. The
freshman drafting major was admittedly "very comfortable and enthusiastic
about performing in sign language."
"Sometimes the deaf have a hard time at school and we are
here to support each other and encourage each other," Ramos said. "We don’t
want to put sign language down; we want to be proud of [it]."
Landa’s father, Emigdio Linan of San Benito, also
performed onstage. He narrated how he met the woman to whom he has been
happily married for 34 years.
"I came from San Antonio many years ago and when I moved
here in 1979, I noticed that there were no interpreters and nothing going on
for the deaf," Linan, who is deaf, said after the show. "I am so glad to see
this happening for the third year."
His wife Carol also performed in a comedy sketch.
"Our daughter works here, so that’s how we got involved,"
Carol Linan said. "There’s nothing like this in the Valley, so it’s really
Landa encouraged UTB/TSC students to learn sign language.
"If [you are] interested in sign language, go ahead and
be involved," she said. "Also, if [you] have a deaf person in the classroom,
don’t be afraid to speak to them, they are just like any other student and
that’s what we hope to promote."
Freshman speech pathology major Florencia Gracia, who
attended the show, agreed.
"I think more of the hearing students should be involved,
see everything [deaf students] are able to do," Gracia said. "They are no
less, we are the same."
Freshman special education major Daniel Martinez is blind
and aspires to be a teacher for the blind and visually impaired.
"People without disabilities need to be aware that
disabilities can occur to people like them," Martinez said in an interview
during the Accessibility Awareness Fair on Oct. 21. "Even though they are
getting through a disability like I did … there’s enough [support to]
Wilder said about 400 students are registered with the
Disability Services Office this semester, which represents an increase of 5
percent over Spring 2009.
"I think more people are being more honest with
themselves and less timid about coming into the office," he said. "We are
happy to help, but we don’t want to stigmatize either; we want them to
Wilder said about a third of the registered students get
accommodations or help of some kind in their classes, such as extra time for
tests or interpreters, if they are deaf.
"About two-thirds of the students wanted to let us know
of their disabilities when they first came to college," he said. "Yet they
manage, which is good because [people] like to be independent."
Wilder sent a message as well to UTB/TSC students: "There
are certain ways that come up occasionally that everybody can help. … Don’t
park in the handicapped parking spaces when you don’t have a
disability--that’s one of the complaints we receive sometimes."
He also suggested students share their notes taken in
class with impaired students who have trouble listening to the professor and
taking notes at the same time.
"That’s a way they can volunteer right on the spot, right in their own
class without going out of their way," Wilder said.