News / USA

University Trains Students to Advocate for Deaf People Worldwide

Rue Winiarzyk works with an interpreter for the deaf in Argentina. (Courtesy Rue Winiarczyk)Rue Winiarzyk works with an interpreter for the deaf in Argentina. (Courtesy Rue Winiarczyk)
x
Rue Winiarzyk works with an interpreter for the deaf in Argentina. (Courtesy Rue Winiarczyk)
Rue Winiarzyk works with an interpreter for the deaf in Argentina. (Courtesy Rue Winiarczyk)
Faiza Elmasry

There are an estimated 360 million deaf people around the world.

Rue Winiarczyk is one of them. Growing up in Canada, she attended a school for deaf students, enjoying the advantages of living in a society attuned to the meeting the needs of its disabled citizens. However, she soon learned her experience is far from the reality for deaf people around the world.

Winiarczyk was 20 when she traveled to Panama where she expected to experience the culture shock, but not the lack of deaf services that she had learned to take for granted.

"I met several deaf individuals in Panama," said Winiarczyk, who now lives in the United States. "In the deaf community, the interpreter service was very scarce...the opportunity we have here in the U.S., other countries don’t necessarily have.”

Rue Winiarzyk at Gallaudet in Washington, D.C., the only university specifically focused on deaf education. (Courtesy Rue Winiarczyk)Rue Winiarzyk at Gallaudet in Washington, D.C., the only university specifically focused on deaf education. (Courtesy Rue Winiarczyk)
x
Rue Winiarzyk at Gallaudet in Washington, D.C., the only university specifically focused on deaf education. (Courtesy Rue Winiarczyk)
Rue Winiarzyk at Gallaudet in Washington, D.C., the only university specifically focused on deaf education. (Courtesy Rue Winiarczyk)

She also found many in Panama's deaf community weren’t aware of their basic rights. They believed their disability was a kind of cosmic punishment and accepted being marginalized by society.

The trip, back in 2000, shaped Winiarczyk‘s future. After that, she enrolled at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only university specifically focused on deaf education, where she signed up for the International Development graduate program.

“That’s to prepare people to go overseas and learn how to include people with disabilities in jobs or in schools," said Amy Wilson, an associate professor who coordinates the program. "Same thing with deaf people; how do you help them understand their language better.”

Students take courses for two years and then two semesters of internship experiences, "with a development organization of their choice in D.C., then the second experience is overseas,” Wilson said.

Winiarczyk went to Kuala Lumpur to work with the Malaysian Federation of the Deaf.

“I did a needs assessment which prioritized what the needs of the deaf community were," she said. "Accessibility was one of the main concerns. For example accessibility to interpreting services was needed. There were approximately 80 interpreters in Malaysia at that time, so, formal trainings (preferably college or university level) was needed in order to train interpreters to ensure the appropriate level of services was provided for deaf people.”

Since her internship there in 2010, Winiarczyk says deaf services have been improving.
 
“I still connect with some of them in Malaysia through Facebook, who work with advocacies and law," she said. “I used inclusive mixed methods to conduct a needs assessment in Malaysia. This allowed me to include the deaf community in the research processes so that they were able to engage in discussions through focus groups and prioritize their own needs. Oftentimes, marginalized groups are overlooked from research processes so this means their voices aren’t included in research processes and they may not be able to become agents of social change or advocate for themselves.”

Winiarczyk now works with Gallaudet's office of International Affairs.

“I’ve gone to Chile, Argentina and Vietnam to do different projects related to education software. For example, we evaluated an educational software developed by the Technology Development Center of Inclusion at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Following our participation in this project, the Chilean deaf community was then included to the process of improving this software.”

Winiarczyk exemplifies the positive change graduates of this program can bring to the deaf communities around the world, says Gallaudet’s Wilson.

“We have one student who graduated a few years ago. He’s from Jamaica. He was frustrated with the lack of the services and rights that deaf people had in Jamaica," she said. "When he was here, deaf people (in Jamaica) couldn’t drive. He’s now working with a project with the Jamaican Deaf Federation and they now have driver’s licenses."

She says another student who who graduated and returned to China, is teaching Chinese students about how they can be empowered through their language and through art.

Another former student, now president of the Kenyan Association of the Deaf, fought to make Kenyan sign language the third official language after Swahili and English in the constitution.

Since Gallaudet's International Development program began in 2008, those graduates, and 30 others, have worked to bring awareness and services to deaf and disabled communities worldwide.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid