Translating between communities

Respect, integrity, innovation, openness, justice and responsibility makeup UVM’s Common Ground, according to the University website. These six pillars hold up the values of the community.

The University is accepting of  all identities, all opinions and all backgrounds, and the Deaf community is no exception, sophomore Emma Archibald said.

UVM offers  classes that specifically focuses on the community and the culture behind the signed language, ASL professor Kevin Richmond said.

UVM also has an ASL club to help students learn about the Deaf community and American Sign Language, according to the UVM website.

Senior Maggie Schiller, who is hard of hearing, said that Deaf and hard of hearing people do not think of themselves as having a disability.

Rather, they think of themselves as “having a different and unique identity,” but that does not make them “lesser than,” said Schiller.

Although there are opportunities to learn about the Deaf community at UVM, Richmond said that there is still way more for UVM to do to support the Deaf community.

Richmond was born deaf and said that he wants to be an advocate for his community and teach others the beauty of the culture.

“My goal is to bridge the gap between the Deaf world and the hearing world,” Richmond said.

Richmond said that awareness of the culture and language are the first step.

“Everyone should learn American Sign Language,” he said.

“This is something that is universally applicable. Communication equals love and everyone has the right to effective communication. It’s a beautiful language. It’s indescribable. ASL is a gift.”

ASL professors are not the only ones who have a passion for ASL and Deaf culture.

“[Deafness] is not just a loss, it’s a community built around a whole different language,” senior Raya Lurvey said, who is Richmond’s teaching assistant.

“Education is number one, then comes respecting the community… that is how [acceptance] is going to grow.”

Richmond said that the responsibility for acceptance is not only on the students.

“We need the staff and faculty to get on board and support Deaf culture as well,” he said.

Specifically, professors of education, special education and communication sciences and disorders should not be taking on the role of educating others about the Deaf community, said Richmond

He said that some educators have shared the idea of mainstreaming deaf students into public schools as being the best option.

Richmond does not agree with this.

“I want others to come to me rather than sharing their opinions as facts or sharing misinformation,” he said.

Richmond said that he is always available to share information about the Deaf community.

“I want to be used as a resource,” he said.