Students from All Majors Signing Up for ASL & Deaf Studies Minor

December 9, 2015

  • Nanette Harmon, coordinator of Niagara University's ASL and Deaf studies program, speaks with Sonja Opper about her presentation on deafness in healthcare.

  • Arianne Davidow's portfolio illustrated considerations to account for when Deaf patrons attend theatre events.

    Arianne Davidow's portfolio illustrated considerations to account for when Deaf patrons attend theatre events.

  • Tyler Van Leeuwen studied how deafness can affect learning.

    Tyler Van Leeuwen studied how deafness can affect learning.

At Monday’s American Sign Language and Deaf Studies Academic Demonstration, Niagara University students demonstrated their mastery of the scope of ASL and Deaf studies and how it will impact their careers. The students, who represented a variety of majors, displayed portfolios they created, which are to be utilized as usable documents for educating a future coworker on d/Deafness.

Tyler Van Leeuwen, a French education major from Bradford, Ontario, got involved in ASL and Deaf studies because he saw it as a good avenue to go down with his field of study.

“I personally decided to be involved in ASL because I thought it was a great opportunity to explore a new language and also immerse myself into a different culture,” said Van Leeuwen. His station at the demonstration was full of facts and things to know about the Deaf community and what it takes to teach people who are Deaf.

“It’s important to be aware of deafness and its relevance to every major.”

There are other majors that involve interacting with the Deaf community, not necessarily through one-on-one speaking, but through entertainment. Arianne Davidow is a theatre major from Clarence, N.Y., and talked about what relevance Deaf theatre has in the community.

“What I really love about Deaf theatre is it incorporates not only the empowerment of Deaf people, but also shows the hearing world how beautiful Deaf culture is to our community,” Davidow said.

It is seen in several ways how ASL and Deaf studies is something that has become a huge part in the Niagara University community.

Nanette Harmon is the coordinator of ASL and Deaf studies at Niagara. She acts as a unique leader for the program because she herself is deaf and can relate, firsthand, to the lifestyle that a deaf person has in a world where the disability has little representation.

“Every one of these students has become an expert in deafness and done research to find how well that will fit into their field,” said Harmon. “It doesn’t matter what we do in here, it matters what we do out there.”

Harmon also went on to cite specific examples of several majors and certain ways that students could relate deafness and the ASL and Deaf studies minor to their particular area of study. She also said that additional events will be held during the course of the school year.

Article by James Burns, a sophomore Academic Exploration Program student. Photos by Jacquie DellaNeve, a junior communication studies major.