Kim Krebs - Deaf Awareness Week

Uploaded by JCCCvideo on 06.07.2009

JOHNSON COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE Deaf Awareness Week Video Transcript
****** Hello, welcome to Many Voices, One Community,
the program of Johnson County Community Collegeís Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Weíre pleased to have with us today Kim Krebs, the director of Gallaudet University Regional
To talk with us about Deaf Awareness Week, which is coming up the 23rd-26th of September.
Itís a longer week than that, but those are the key dates. So, what can you tell us about
Deaf Awareness Week?
Well, Deaf Awareness Week is actually a national event that takes place in many communities
across the country. Weíve celebrated this kind of culture and unique community many
times on our campus here, but I think what makes it so exciting this year is the collaborative
nature in which weíre approaching it in terms of working with the office that youíre with
now and some of the other programs across the campus. But itís really exciting to see
so much come together and people working together to make these events possible.
Good. Well, whatís going to be happening?
Well weíve got a couple really exciting things lined up. Weíre going to be showing, with
the permission of PBS, a documentary that has been produced in collaboration with Gallaudet
University in Washington, D.C., that chronicles and documents the history of deaf people in
this country. And itís a fascinating piece. It was actually debutedÖ
This is Through Deaf Eyes?
Yes, itís called Through Deaf Eyes and it debuted a year or so ago. And it is actually
an award-winning documentary, which is very exciting. And we will be showing it on Tuesday,
and it is open to the public, and we certainly encourage our students and our staff and anyone
whoís already here on campus to come out and join us, but anyone in the Greater Kansas
City area that would like to come out, itís appropriate for all ages. And again, it chronicles
the lives and histories of deaf people, some of which the greater communityís aware of,
like Marlee Matlin and her award-winning performance in Children of a Lesser God to just how deaf
people were educated and raised and treated through history in the United States and the
evolution of the language, the sign language and how itís been documented and preserved
for history. So itís kind of a really unique piece in that it was done in cooperation with
PBS, and itís just very well researched and presented, and is accessible to anybody that
would like to watch it, through sign language or captions or through audio input. So weíre
all excited to be able to have a collaborative agreement with PBS to offer this as a public
viewing on Tuesday at noon in Carlsen Center 211. And we hope anyone thatís interested
will come out and take a seat and join us to watch that.
Great. And then youíre leading a book discussion the next day?
I have heard that, yes. Janna Willnauer from Access Services and I are going to be leading
a discussion on a book that was written a good number of years ago, so itís not exactly
a contemporary work, but I think itís a piece that anyone whoís interested in studying
deaf people and the history, again, of deaf people, and what that experience is like.
As a parent, to find out you have a child whoís deaf, and what some of that discovery
is like. The book is called Deaf Like Me, and itís about a family, again, who have
a child, and she happens to be deaf, and then how do they progress through the medical scenarios
and the educational systems, and finally come to a place of acceptance and realization of
who they are as a family and who they are as individuals, and the ability to accept
differences and similarities, so, hence the title, Deaf Like Me. Itís a very moving piece,
and I think itís a really good place to start, if this is not an area that you have researched
or studied or read much about, if itís really new to you, itís a really good place to start,
so Janna and I are looking forward to kind of rereading that book ourselves and then
sharing it and discussing it with others, what their thoughts and their takes were on
the experience.
Is the significance of the book someÖIs part of it for readers that they, you know, you
donít know whether or not this may be an issue in your life, and the person grappling
with having to deal with this whole reality they havenít dealt with before? Iím just
curious. It must have made some sort of impact upon publication, right, around that?
It did. You know, itís interesting, and Iím certainly not a statistician by any means,
but as I understand it, 20%, thereís an 80-20 rule ñ that 80% of deaf kids are born to
families that are hearing normal families. That these families are having a baby and
would never had thought about a child potentially being deaf, and so on, and so this book, particularly,
highlights the experience of parents and the surprise and the shock and even the grief
that you can go through in terms of realizing that the child theyíre having is not what
they had anticipated having. And how you go through those processes of moving through
that and learning and identifying new ways of looking at things. And adjusting perspective
and what you perceive to be as positives and negatives. And so, I think thatís the kind
of book that we selected, because it can reach out to anybody. Whether youíre a parent already,
or yet to be, the idea of that. And thatís a big issue in the community, when a family
is preparing for the excitement of an additional member to the family, but then that child
is not exactly what they had been anticipating. I mean, it could be youíre expecting a girl,
and itís a boy, or it could be you have a child with a hearing loss.
So itís a universal issue.
I think itís a universal theme that is given in a very specific kind of context in this
way. But itís a really good way of looking about whoís deaf and that is changing. That
is a question that is changing every day. Who is a deaf person? And you will find all
kinds of different opinions about that. Whether itís an individual who has some level of
hearing loss from mild to moderate to profound, whether they sign or they donít sign, are
they identified as a deaf person? Are they members of the deaf culture in the community
or not? And again, perceptions in how those change given any certain kind of descriptor.
So I think the book is a really interesting way to start. I think our movie is a really
excellent choice to give the historical kind of perspectives, and thereís another piece
coming upÖ
Öthat weíre doing on Friday afternoon, 3 ñ youíre going to have to help me ñ 3:30,
3:30 in the afternoon.
3:30 to 5, and thereís a reception afterwards.
Make sure that thatís correct, 3:30 to 5, and weíre going to be inviting an individual
in who is profoundly deaf, who is a female.
Does that mean non-hearing?
Well, it means, Iím describing an individual who uses, not just primarily, but almost solely
American Sign Language. I do not believe she has any real auditory ability that sheís
hearing things and veryÖand no use of speech.
You know, when people are talking about that, she is profoundly deaf. No assistance with
hearing aids or amplification. But whatís incredibly unique about this individualís
experience, her life experience, is that sheís Native American as well. And so when we talk
about cultural identity, in whatever form or target area that weíre looking at, thereís
always going to be the concept of this and this. So you could potentially, and again,
in Melanie McKay-Codyís example, she is deaf and Native American and a woman. Sheís also
pursuing her doctoral studies. Sheís on the faculty at William Woods University. Sheís
worked in the State Department of Education here in Kansas for many years, and has a very,
very wide and diverse, interesting background. And sheís going to be coming and talking
to us about cultural identity, and what that has meant to her as a woman, as a deaf person
who uses only sign language. And in particular her experiences as a Native American. And
itís, thatís where some of the, when I mentioned earlier the whole collaborative thing, this
is coming about through the efforts of some of the folks that are interested in Native
American studies, who will be doing some celebrations later on this fall, and the Department of
Anthropology, who knew Melanie through one route, where through the deafness side of
things Iíve known her for many years through her role in education and things, but the
idea kind of came together and has synergized and is happening to bring about this 3:30
on Friday afternoon experience with her sharing that with folks that are interested in coming
out and then having an opportunity to meet and greet Melanie afterwards.
And thatís at the Nerman, right?
It is in the Nerman, and in the Hudson Auditorium. So we have plenty of seating, itíll be great
visibility for anyone that is wanting to watch the sign language in action and voice interpreters,
meaning as Melanie signs her presentation, there will be interpreters provided that will
be voicing her words for her. So anyone that is interested in coming out and attending
the session will be able to follow the program and participate in the question/answer sessions
without any kind of limitations, so itís a really great opportunity just to come out
and see someone speaking their native language that is visual and beautiful and fluent and
still talking about things that are just not part of our normal American daily culture.
Iíve conversed with Melanie on a number of occasions and I can remember one in particular,
she kept signing something and I finally, you know, I was like, Iím just not getting
what that piece is, and it turned out to be the word bison. Well, bison doesnít come
up in my daily vocabulary very oftenÖ
Mm-hmm, yeah, right.
Öand once I knew what she was signing I went, oh, thatís right, which happens to be this.
And it was like oh, OK, I knew that. So itís things you just donít think about or reflect
upon very often, and itís going to be a really interesting and exciting opportunity, I think.
So thatís how our Deaf Awareness Week is shaping up for this year.
Now, how long have you been doing these Deaf Awareness Weeks? Is this something that goes
back several years?
Deaf Awareness Week, again, is recognized nationally, and here at Johnson County Community
College, weíve done it, hit or miss, over a long period of time. The Gallaudet Regional
Center has been on this campus for 30 years. So Iíve been around not quite that long,
but close. And weíve attempted different things over the years, and with varying degrees
of success. Weíve taught some signs or done this or that, but I think what is feeling
different about this yearís effort is just that whole collaborative that people are coming
together from across campus. The Interpreter Training Program, the students that we have
here, deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and students, people from Anthropology, people
from the office that are focusing on diversity issues, and the Gallaudet Regional Center,
Access Services, I mean thereís just a whole variety of folks who have interest in this
community and culture to come together and bring an event about.
Well youíve watched this happen. Whatís caused that change of styles, people reaching
across from one group to another?
I just think the time has come, and the efforts of a central area to bring about attention
and to help make these opportunities happen, people step up. Individually we can do so
much, but collaboratively and as a group we can do so much more. And somebody says, ìThatís
a neat idea, Iíd like to be part of that, too.î And thatís sort of whatís happening
with the efforts of the Diversity Office, and just recognizing some of those things
and just giving a central point to let people step up and create these things. And what
Iím excited about, not only is this year, but the potential for years to come, and how
this can continue and even grow into other opportunities.
Any thoughts about that?
Well, yes, I always have thoughts about that, Iím excited about it! Iím excited about
this year and getting that word out to folks. But I think the potential is really limitless,
because we can have folks come in, and Melanie is a great example, but I think one of the
other things weíve been brainstorming about is more movie opportunities, more literature
reviews and discussion groups. Thereís such a broad spectrum of perspectives in terms
of what is deaf, what is a deaf person? Itís changing so much over the years. Just looking
at American Sign Language and how people use that in communicating, whether theyíre deaf
or in the example of the autism event thatís coming up soon, we are providing some very
interesting research-based documents and brochures to the participants of that event. But looking
at autism spectrum disorders and deafness, that whole combination. So I think when you
look at the opportunities that exist to say, well, we do this and we do this, but what
happens when you bring them together and cross over? Itís really exciting.
OK. Weíre getting down where we need to wrap up, but I was thinking, for those people who
havenít maybe thought that much about these issues where hearing people go along and donít
necessarily see how this connects to our lives, what do you think is the, if you could try
to sum up, what do you think it is that the deaf community has to say to that larger community,
or that we need to hear from that large community? I know you donít want to speak for the deaf,
but do you have any thoughts on that? Or final thoughts?
Well, they are part of the community. And again, Iím not a deaf person, and youíre
right, Iím very hesitant to speak on behalf of a community that exists and can speak for
themselves, but they are part of our neighborhoods. Theyíre part of our school systems. Theyíre
part of our daily lives, if you look and see that. The proximity of the School for the
Deaf in Olathe to Johnson County Community College ñ itís a natural bridging. And these
folks are here and working and living among us just like weíre working and living amongst
them in their communities. And itís just to reach out andÖ
We need to learn from each other.
Yeah, learn from each other, and donít let the communication be a barrier.
All right. Well, thank you very much for coming.
Well, Iím glad to be here and Iím excited about the week. Thanks.
OK, great. And thank you for watching.