Being a deaf student at Madison College isn’t easy.
Many students and staff are not familiar with sign language, deaf culture, and deafness in general, creating an isolating environment.
Now, deaf students at Madison College are forming the Deaf Community Association (DCA) in order to connect with other students and promote awareness of deaf culture.
“I became really invested in it because growing up I was mainstreamed. I always felt kind of outcast, so this felt like a great opportunity to meet people like me,” said Chynna McNair, 20, a co-founder and co-president of DCA.
Sophie Powell, 21, also a co-founder and co-president of DCA, said she wanted to form the organization to meet new people.
“I wanted to get this club started so I didn’t feel so alone,” she said.
McNair said sometimes deaf students are scattered throughout Madison College and don’t always talk to one another and the organization is a way to change that.
Members of DCA say deaf culture is another important part of their organization. Lucero Uriostegui, 18, described some of the ways the group can educate students about deaf culture.
“A lot of people assume that because we’re deaf we can read lips, or that deaf people are lesser than, or can’t do certain things. We just want to let people know that all deaf people have different languages and everybody comes from a different story,” she said.
Uriostegui said sign language is one area of deaf culture hearing people often don’t understand.
“Some people use American Sign Language and some people use a form of Sign to English, and those are two very different things. Also, people assume that American Sign Language is a lesser than language but it is a full-fledged language with its own grammar, context, and syntax. It’s a full language,” she said.
Students who want to get involved with DCA can reach out to McNair or Powell.
“DCA is not just a board that is a boring place to come and do business. We want students to gather just to hang out and socialize,” Powell said.
“We plan on hosting events for people especially those who feel isolated to come and hang out. Learning about deaf community, learning about deaf culture, and learning that it’s OK to be here,” she added.