Deaf culture celebrated in talent show

By Luciana Morales
Staff Writer

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An impersonation of President Barack Obama, two superheroes, dances, song mimes and a number of comedy sketches and personal testimonies delighted the standing-room-only crowd at the American Sign Language Talent Show.

The event, held Oct. 24 in the Education and Business Complex’s Salon Cassia, concluded UTB/TSC’s observance of Accessibility Awareness Week, which included a panel presentation, a fair, an open house and exhibits at the REK Center and two screenings of the disability-themed movie, "The Soloist."

Disability Services Counselor Steve Wilder said more than 230 students turned out to both showings of "The Soloist."

Manuel Reyna/Collegian 
Staff interpreter Patricia Palomino, with assistance from Dede Weeks, performs Gloria Gaynor’s disco hit “I Will Survive” during the ASL Talent Show Oct. 24 in the Education and Business Complex’s Salon Cassia.

"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 Show.

"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 equal."

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 audience.

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 special."

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] succeed."

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 succeed."

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.

 



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