Student body largely unaware of deaf culture – Mesa Community College, Arizona
The Mesa Legend
by Shanteal Collins
Some students at Mesa Community College say when it comes to communicating with deaf individuals, they aren’t exactly sure how to do that. Although grabbing a pen and paper would be most people’s gut reaction, there is a little more to it than just relying on the written word: a habit that hearing individuals are so accustomed to. Most people are not aware that the deaf culture exists as a culture.
For most students, the definition of a culture includes language, customs, beliefs and traditions being passed from one generation to the next although language seems to be the top criterion mentioned. Mesa offers American Sign Language (and Alice Marino) said the biggest misconception students have going into her class is that ASL is an easy course. Unfortunately, she said, sometimes those students are the ones that struggle the most.
Marino said she was guilty of having this same misconception but quickly adjusted and learned there was more to ASL and hopes that students can come away from her course with the general awareness of language and culture. Just as learning any foreign language requires work, so does sign language.
Michelle Barto, an ASL instructor at MCC who is deaf, agrees that generally there are students taking sign language over German or Japanese because they believe it will be easier. “Students believe it’s an easy class because they think it’s English underhand but it’s not,” she said. “People are either visual or auditory learners.”