Vermont hears Deaf History Week

Although April 6 marked the end of Deaf History Week, the performance of the last event did not go unheard.   

UVM’s American Sign Language Program hosted the week’s events which included final performer John Maucere, a deaf actor, filmmaker and advocate.

Maucere spoke to the UVM community as part of his national tour entitled “The John Maucere Show.”

“He was animated, and helped me feel included even though I am not in the deaf community,” first-year Diandra Chamberlain said.

Maucere was accompanied by fellow guest speaker Ashley Fiolek.

Fiolek, among her various television appearances, is a professional motorcyclist.

She is also the first deaf person to win the American Motorcylcist Association Championship, according to the UVM website.

She spoke about the challenges that she overcame as both a woman and a member of the deaf community.

She had to overcome all of this as she was actively performing in motorcycle competitions. 

“Work hard and your dreams can come true, whether you’re hearing or deaf,” she said.  

Event coordinator Keri Ogrizovich said the performance’s purpose was to illustrate “an idea of deaf culture, deaf history, breaking down barriers and how we rise above them.”

“Our goal was to bring [American Sign Language] students and the deaf community together and educate people and meet role models,” Ogrizovich said. 

Both speakers described personal challenges, etiquette and some of the stereotypes that face the deaf community. 

Through a series of comedic sketches, Maucere illustrated that the most mundane places, such as restrooms and elevators, can pose communication barriers between the hearing and the deaf.

However, Maucere emphasized that communication is “not just about hearing, but about connecting.”

Maucere and Fioleck also advocated the importance of learning American Sign Language.

“Deaf people are thrilled to know when hearing people can learn the language,” Maucere said. “I light up [when I see them] it is so helpful.”

Maucere has been featured on shows such as “Law and Order,” “Switched at Birth”  and “Southland.”

He was also featured in his own film “No Ordinary Hero: A Superdeafy Movie.”