Deaf Students at Harvard Request Greater Access and Inclusion

According to an article in The Harvard Crimson, some students are embracing Deaf culture more at Harvard University, while students ask for ASL courses for full inclusion.

The subject of the Harvard article, Westley “West” A. Resendes, has had some good experiences at Harvard as a student who wears a cochlear implant and self-identifies as culturally “Deaf.”

According to the article, “He had interpreters for lectures, sections, and thesis meetings, as well as outside events at the Kennedy School of Government and Kirkland House.”

Cynthia Carvey signing.
Sign Shares’ interpreters like Cynthia Carvey don’t censor what is said. Deaf students want all of the same information as everyone else. (license)

The university provides full inclusion during access. For example, Resendes recalls that when Family Guy creator, Seth McFarlane, visited Harvard, the celebrity learned signs for vulgar words in ASL and then said them and watched the interpreters sign them, according to the article.

Times have changed for students who are deaf at Harvard. A professor from the deaf college Gallaudet University, Caroline M. Solomon, said there were no staff interpreters when she arrived at Harvard.

According to the article, “Halfway through [Solomon’s] first semester, however, the school hired an interpreter full time, who stayed with her for the next four years.”

Resendes and others sometimes don’t receive interpreters if they can’t give advance notice, according to the article.

Sarah D. Gluck, a deaf graduate student pursuing a degree in speech and hearing bioscience and technology, said, “Hearing students have the privilege of walking through the hallway and seeing a poster for something, like a science lecture or talk that’s happening that day or later that week, but it’s hard for me to have any sort of spontaneity.”

Gluck and others who are deaf must give two to three weeks’ notice of their intentions to attend an event, according to the article.

Many pictures in one of a woman showing sign language symbols with her hands.
American Sign Language classes teach one of America’s most-used languages. They also educate some of tomorrow’s interpreters. photo credit: See Hear via photopin (license)

Besides the difficulties of interpreter availability at Harvard, the lack of American Sign Language, or ASL, classes thwarts students like Resendes. The university had ASL courses in the 1990’s, but dropped them due to funding. Now, according to the article, the only ASL courses are provided by the campus organization CODA.

According to the article, Resendes tried fulfill his Harvard foreign language requirement with ASL and his request was denied. Currently, Harvard students can study ASL only as a source of research.

Resendes said, according to the article, that the standard is “rather unfair…considering other languages can be taken for pleasure at Harvard,” and that “The University needs to reconsider its outdated position on ASL.”

Significant strides are being taken by the university journalism staff because they are providing balanced news by presenting news from the perspective of deaf students. Also, The Harvard Crimson reporters aren’t perpetuating stereotypes and are including issues relevant to students with all abilities.

Human Writes with a W is written on paper with a marker.
By including the interests of students who are deaf and hard of hearing, Harvard journalists help to cultivate an inclusive environment on campus. (license)

Media inclusion is crucial for the future inclusive environment at Harvard, because without news coverage, students and faculty at the campus wouldn’t know the issues faced and changes needed.

According to Susan C. Levine in “Reporting on Disability,” “Media coverage plays a crucial role in educating the public on disability issues. It could–and should–be helping people understand that these are civil-rights issues. But more often than not, reporting on disability perpetuates negative stereotypes or fails to tell the story from the perspective of people with disabilities.”

Man reads newspaper intently.
Campus media influences how well a university accepts, rejects, or ignores students of all abilities. photo credit: Eligh Reading via photopin (license)

Like many universities, Harvard is working toward greater access and inclusion for all students and the article in The Harvard Crimson is proof that the campus culture encourages growth.

If you would like to provide a more inclusive environment for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deafblind, you can request services from Sign Shares here or call 713.869.4373 or 866.787.4154.

 

 

 

 

 

Webinar, Training Provide Tips for Creating an Inclusive Workplace

Want to have a more inclusive work place and hire people with disabilities, but not sure how? Onsite training from Sign Shares, Inc./International and a free webinar offer you solutions.

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsSign Shares provides meetings to train and answer any questions you have about interpreting services for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind. Sign Shares is the oldest, professional,  and unique provider of Sign Language Interpreting and Translation Services in the United States. Sign Shares’ staff know this may be a new type of communication for many people and can share strategies to make the transition smoother.

Workshops are catered to your needs and may include:

  • Why do people who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing/Deaf-Blind request interpreters or captioning?
  • What are the differences between the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Hearing cultures?
  • Which Americans with Disabilities Act laws apply to my company?
  • What are common misconceptions about people who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing/Deaf-Blind?

Schedule your workshop today!

coordinator@signshares.com; 713-869-4373; Fax: 713-869-8463; Video Phone#1: 832-431-3854; Video Phone#2: 832-431-4899

Need to request Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services? Contact Sign Shares here.

Workplace shows roomy open seating
Desk areas that are open on the bottom allow staff with wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility conditions easy access to their work space.

This free webinar, from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network, will provide strategies learned through eight nationwide consortia to increase the capacity of small businesses to employ people with disabilities. Participants will hear from small businesses about their experiences and learn about a new online resource to help them take action.

The network is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in cooperation with The Viscardi Center. The Viscardi Center provides programs that educate, employ, and empower children and adults with disabilities.

Television with captions.
All TVs since the 1990’s have been built with the capacity to provide captions. Enabling captions on workplace TVs enables Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees to read what’s being said, and also allows staff to watch TV during breaks without disturbing others.

Registration is required for the  free “Small Business & Disability Employment: Steps to Success” webinar on Dec. 8, 1:00-2:00 Central Time.

Click here to register.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Governor recognizes Sign Shares at awards

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recognized Sign Shares, Inc. | International of Houston at the 2015 Lex Frieden Awards in Fort Worth on Oct. 21 for the Small Business Award.

The Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities renamed the annual employment awards after civil right’s champion, Lex Frieden, who was “instrumental in conceiving and drafting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”

The Fort Worth Mayor’s Committee on Persons with Disabilities hosted the sold out event.

Governor Abbott speaks about Sign Shares.
Governor Abbott sent a video to the awards ceremony.

Though the governor couldn’t make the ceremony, Governor Abbott recognized Sign Shares in a captioned video, where he said, “These awards honor those who go above and beyond what is required to ensure that all Texans have a chance to put their skills and talents to use in the workplace.”

“Today I’m proud to help recognize the award winners . . . It includes Sign Shares International of Houston, where the entire staff focuses on ensuring full inclusion and raising awareness of accessibility issues in the community,” he said.

Sign Shares staff at awards (l-r): Christina Goebel, Eva Storey, and Anthony Butkovich
Sign Shares staff at awards (l-r): Christina Goebel, Eva Storey, and Anthony Butkovich

Sign Shares’ CEO, Eva Storey, was present to accept the award. Together with Storey were Sign Shares’ Executive Assistant Anthony Butkovich and Advocacy Community Projects Manager, Christina Goebel.

“We are proud to employ people with all disabilities and wish to inspire other companies to do the same as our company is here to guide both employee and employer through the process within such a deserving community,” Storey said.

Eva Storey and Christina Goebel concentrate on their speeches before taking the stage to accept the award.
Eva Storey and Christina Goebel prepare before speaking at the Lex Frieden Awards.

At the ceremony, Goebel thanked Storey and Butkovich for making her feel wanted, needed, and accepted with her deafness, and for the access and inclusion Sign Shares provides to staff.

If you are an entity that wishes to open the doors for people with disabilities,  contact Sign Shares’ offices at info@signshares.com .