Patricia “Trix” Bruce can tell her life’s story without uttering a single syllable.
More than 200 people found that out Wednesday at Niagara University, as Bruce, who is Deaf, reminded them that learning American Sign Language can break down many barriers. Bruce also expressed great support of the mission of NU’s American Sign Language and Deaf studies program, which is to develop sign communication skills for all areas of life, along with a broad understanding of deafness.
“It was energizing to receive that kind of feedback from a prominent member of the Deaf community,” said Rachel Bailey, ’17, an adjunct professor at Niagara. “Her vision matches that of our program. We learn the language to be able to communicate with people.”
Drawing on her background in American Sign Language and a life filled with travel and adventure, Bruce excels in hilarious true-to-life storytelling and impromptu, interactive ASL artistry. Her diverse interests in business and stage performance have paved the way for Bruce’s entrepreneurial success as an instructional presenter and sought-after entertainer.
Bruce offered a pair of ASL storytelling workshops at NU’s Castellani Art Museum on April 11, one in the morning and another in the evening. Both were open to the public at no cost and included a post-show meet and greet.
Voice interpretation was provided for attendees who aren’t proficient in ASL.
About 50 students and staff members from St. Mary’s School for the Deaf attended the morning session. Their response was extremely positive, according to Nanette L. Harmon, a faculty fellow at NU and coordinator of its ASL and Deaf studies program.
“Those students do not typically have access to this type of community-based presentation,” Harmon noted. “To be invited to an event on our campus that was focused on the Deaf experience and presented in the first language of the Deaf community was amazing.”
Niagara University offers a full complement of courses in American Sign Language and Deaf studies. The program focuses on the development of conversational sign skills, although students may progress into ASL interpreting programs, Deaf education programs and more.