Students celebrate Deaf Awareness Week


From informational presentations to game night and poetry readings, many say Deaf Awareness Week was a great success. 


Deaf Awareness Week, which took place the week of Sept. 20, aimed to raise awareness about American Sign Language (ASL), the fourth most commonly used language in the country, and expose people to deaf culture, the event’s website stated. 


“The deaf community is probably one of the largest overlooked minorities in the United States,” ASL Program Coordinator Keri Ogrizovich said. 


UVM currently employs two professors fluent in ASL, and current graduate student Alex Lynch will be the third as of next semester, Ogrizovich said. 


There are many courses offered to students interested in ASL, ranging from those covering American deaf culture and other countries such as Canada and Nigeria, according to the ASL Program website. 


Monday kicked off the week’s events with a presentation by Ogrizovich herself, during which she discussed growing up in deaf culture and her education as opposed to that of her deaf brother, senior Sign House resident Holly Bridges said. 


Throughout the week, ASL students of all levels hosted ASL Game Night, ASL Skit Night and ASL Movie Night showing “A Permanent Grave,” a movie filmed and directed by Wayne Betts, a deaf man.


On Saturday, speaker “the Unstoppable” Rene Pellerin came to talk about how he dedicated his life to the deaf community by interpreting, entertaining, and actively participating in the government to pass laws supporting the deaf, according to the website.


“I got involved in ASL my senior year of high school,” Bridges said. “I had no previous experience but it seemed interesting and I started learning about how deaf culture is its own culture, just like any other, which is really intriguing.”