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ASL: making language accessible to community

by Shelby Toth - Executive Editor
Tue, Feb 26th 2019 09:10 pm

As part of its continuing effort to make Brockport a more open environment, the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) Committee on Accessibility is holding a free eight-week American Sign Language (ASL) class.

“The aim of the class is to provide an opportunity for faculty, staff and graduate students to acquire basic ASL skills to improve their communication with people who have hearing impairments, both on our campus and in the broader community,” Chair of the PCDI Committee Jessica Sniatecki said. “The intent of the class is to make our campus more inclusive for individuals with hearing impairments.”

She also explained that the class is not open to undergraduate students, as they have the opportunity to take a credit-bearing ASL course through the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures.

According to Sniatecki, the instructor for this course will be Oscar Gomez, a member of the deaf community. He was recommended to teach by a member of the accessibility committee.

Gomez explained that he has taught ASL before and has enjoyed teaching it as part of his life. He believes everyone can benefit from learning sign language.

“I support teaching ASL with hearing people because they learn parts of [being an] interpreter belong to deaf culture and the community as our family,” Gomez wrote.

Gomez also said that he often wishes people knew more sign language especially in places such as work, public schools and in club organizations.

According to Sniatecki, this isn’t the first class of its kind for the committee, nor will it be the last.

“We have offered classes like this several times in previous years and hope to continue to do so in the future,” Sniatecki said. “The class filled in a day and a half and we limited it to 20 participants.”

Other accomplishments of the committee include creating signage for accessible doors on Brockport’s campus, developing a minor in Disability studies and purchasing both sport and everyday wheelchairs through two different grants. They have also collaborated with different groups on campus, one to involve themselves in the all-gender restroom initiative and another to address a variety of campus accessibility challenges.

The Committee on Accessibility’s mission, according to Sniatecki, is to “ensure accessibility (physical & emotional) for all students, faculty, and staff (for academics and campus life), increase awareness related to the needs of individuals with disabilities on campus and to develop coursework for students to study disability.”

On Brockport’s campus, it is not uncommon to see sign language interpreters for many major events. Guest speakers at the college, addresses given by the president and the theatre matinee performances all typically include an interpreter, as part of the college’s dedication to accessibility.

A full list of services offered by the college on accessibility can be found on the Brockport website.