Deaf Culture Day: Panelists recount experiences as deaf students

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Nina Kaplan” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]

Junior Thomas Chappell and seniors Reggie Joseph, Danayt Gafo and Jamie Moore share their experiences as deaf students.

by Jay Feinstein

As G-block started yesterday, panelists from the Deaf Student Panel, raised and shook their hands, showing the signs for applause, and the chatter-filled room became quiet.

As a part of Deaf Culture Day, student participants in the EDCO Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing describe life at this school without sound. EDCO student junior Brian Podlisny moderated the event, which was held in the little theatre.

Senior Jamie Moore described how his parents did not know that he was deaf until he was a year old. “When I one years old, I still hadn’t said my first word, so my parents knew something was up,” he signed.

At one point in his life, he wore a hearing aid, but he did not like it. “I felt like a robot,” he signed.

Senior Reggie Joseph  discussed how he became involved in EDCO. “I used to go to Horace Mann, a small deaf school,” he said. “By sixth grade, I realized that I was just learning the same things, so I came to Day middle school to learn new things, and now, I’m here.”

Most of the panelists described similar stories of transferring from deaf schools to public schools.

Senior Danayt Gafo used to live in Africa and learned an African sign language. She moved to Cambridge and went to the same deaf school to learn American Sign Language, which she signed is “very different” from her native language. She transferred to this school because “there were more opportunities here.”

Junior Thomas Chappell discussed how he likes to do many of the same activities that hearing people do, like hanging out with friends.

He can even drive, as he recently acquired his license. “Driving is visual,” he signed. “I can see the road, I can see the lights, and I can even notice the police if I needed to.”

There are even perks to being deaf, he signed. “I’m never disturbed when I’m reading and sleeping because I can’t hear anything around me.”

Chappell encouraged the audience to get to know the deaf students at this school. “I want you to understand we are deaf, but you can chat with us,” he signed. We don’t bite.”