IHS campus sheds light on ASL awareness

The Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus is bringing light to a useful skill for students as it hosted an American Sign Language workshop.

On Sept. 24, the campus hosted an American Sign Language (ASL) workshop. The event was held in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It also coincided with the International Week of the Deaf.

The event featured a certified ASL interpreter for attendees to learn and practice the language and had three different practice sections: greetings and introduction in patient care, basic assessment of symptoms and basic dialogue for clinical setting.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Freeman
A certified ASL interpreter visited the IHS campus and helped students learn and practice sign language.

According to the University events calendar, the goals of this event were to identify common barriers that exist for deaf and hard of hearing patients, communicate simple concepts in ASL, demonstrate knowledge of available resources to address communication barriers and understand culturally sensitive behavior within the Deaf community.

The event was organized by Kelly Freeman, Director of Student Life for IHS, and Dr. Asia McCleary-Gaddy, Director of Diversity and Equity for the School of Medicine. Over the summer, both planned several events for the academic year and wanted to bring attention to the International Week of the Deaf.

With McClearly-Gaddy serving as an adviser for Student National Medical Association (SNMA), an organization that holds ASL workshops, they felt that it would be important to bring this learning opportunity to the whole campus. The SNMA’s goal is to teach students who want to be physicians.

“We focus on providing support for underrepresented minority medical students, and we’re committed to giving all students access to educational resources on– and opportunity for outreach within– underserved communities,” McClearly-Gaddy said. “We are committed to removing all barriers to success for minorities in medicine, and we welcome all those who aspire to be positive influences of change within underserved populations.”

SNMA decided to help with this workshop because they host ASL workshops every month. Freeman and McClearly-Gaddy noted the importance to learn ASL for the health field.

“We felt that this is particularly important for future healthcare providers who will likely need to know ASL to best support their patients and patients’ families,” Freeman said. “Additionally, we wanted to bring awareness to the language and to the ASL community.”

At the workshop, SNMA student leaders volunteered to teach students the basics of Deaf culture and the alphabet. The lessons included common phrases and terms that would be asked in a health setting, such as “How are you feeling?” and “Where is the doctor?”

Aamirah McCutchen, a second-year medical student and president of SNMA, said, “It was pleasant surprise to see how engaged the students were in the workshop. It was great to see how much they enjoyed learning about the culture and realizing that it’s not a different language but its own language.”

For those who want to learn more about ASL, IHS students can attend SNMA’s workshops, which are open to the entire campus. Freeman noted that they are planning on a potential event similar to this one for the spring semester.

Victoria Rossi can be reached at victoria.rossi@student.shu.edu

Author: Victoria Rossi

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