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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora