American Sign Language professors discussed ways in which deaf and hard of hearing students can get involved on campus at the Julius Glickman Conference Center on Wednesday.
The event, which was the second annual meet-and-greet for deaf and hard of hearing students, takes place in September, which holds Deaf Awareness Week.
According to linguistics lecturer David Simmons, there are more than 60 hearing-impaired students on campus and 10 faculty and staff. Simmons said Austin is the second-largest deaf populated city in the United States with roughly 70,000 deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
The event allowed deaf and hard of hearing students to eat snacks and mingle with each other. Students majoring in deaf education also attended to become more familiar with ASL.
As the ASL program in the Department of Linguistics continues to grow, Simmons said he hopes the event will flourish and provide students with a connection to their community.
“It’s a good way to bond,” Simmons said.
Exercise science senior Christy Hediger said she often finds it difficult to meet other hearing impaired students on such a large campus.
“I think it’s really cool because most of us never get to meet each other,” Hediger said. “We’re a really small community, so it’s nice to get to know each other.”
Additional networking opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing students include joining the college bowl team, which competes against other schools in a trivia game at the National Association of the Deaf conference, UT alumna Lisa Guerra said at the event. Guerra graduated with her bachelor’s in history last year and competed in the college bowl team when she attended UT.
“We compete in different categories like language, arts, deaf culture, mathematics, science and so many more,” Guerra said through a translator. “I learned a lot about my own identity while learning about deaf culture. You can meet anyone.”
Deaf education junior Amy Mulkey attended the event to further her knowledge in ASL and said she hopes to immerse herself in the culture.
“I’ve met a lot of friends through this, which has been wonderful,” Mulkey said. “I automatically fell in love with [ASL].”