Learning to communicate
August 5, 2005
For the deaf and hard of hearing, the world can be a much different place – and not just in terms of sound.
Even basic skills, like greeting one another, can be an obstacle.
That’s why, day after day, students at the communication arts camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing at Carson High School started off the same way – saying their own name to another student and asking that student for their own name, including sign name.
“I’m very impressed,” said Marilyn Sexton, who has been an interpreter in the Washoe County School District for Eric Marshall, 15, and two of his classmates Madison Salem, 16, and Jonathan Vazquez, 17, also at the camp.
“Every day they have the introduction. It’s the same thing over and over. It’s so much better than doing it just once. They don’t learn that way.”
Gary Olsen is executive director of the Nevada Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advocacy Research Center, which is hosting the camp in its second year,
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He said the idea is to start to put names with people, instead of describing them in details like “blonde hair, blue shirt,” and also to begin to put names with objects, like the one that Eric described from a recent trip to the Nevada Railroad Museum.
“Hand car,” Olsen wrote on the board.
The communication camp is a two-week workshop for deaf and hard-of-hearing students throughout Nevada. Twenty-six students from eight school districts attended.
“The purpose of the camp is to be able to help students learn how to communicate with the community,” said Candi Daviton, camp director. “We really emphasize communication in our program.”
Experiences for the students, who ranged in ages from 6 to 18, included trips to the pool, the Nevada State Railroad Museum and even Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors. Also during the camp, students were visited by a probation officer and a representative from the U.S. Forest Service.
Olsen spoke of social graces and encouraged students to be aware of their surroundings.
Friday was the last day of the camp, when participants gathered under a tree, laughing and smiling and protecting their eyes from the sun as they readied for a group picture.
Eric Marshall, one of the taller students, propped himself up and looked confidently into the camera lens.
When it was done, the students in their matching tie-dyed T-shirts headed back for a few more hours of camp.
The camp was free to students. Donations came from Carson City Toyota, Baskin- Robbins, Grandma Hattie’s, Jack in the Box, Dairy Queen, Jim Boy’s Tacos and several private donors.
“I like it here,” Madison Salem said. “You learn signing and you improve your signs.”
And now he’s captured in a picture that tells a story of two weeks at camp with people who speak the way he does.
n Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.