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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More