Friday, October 23, 2009

Silent Raiders make noise about disability awareness

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Members of Silent Raiders, a club serving both hearing and hearing impaired people in the Lubbock community, participated in a Silent Bingo in the Wall/Gates lobby Thursday, helping raise awareness of people who are hearing impaired as a part of Disability Awareness Week.

Disability Awareness Week, hosted by the Student Disability Services, featured events throughout the week designed to inform students about various disabilities people can face.

“It was just to let everybody know and get disability awareness out in the Tech community, a lot of people don’t even know that we’re on campus,” said Audrey Sendejo, a Student Disability Services sign language interpreter.

The Silent Bingo game gave students the chance to experience how someone who is hearing impaired plays a game. Interpreters passed out cheat sheets illustrating the hand signals of both letters and numbers used in the game as well as repeating the called out numbers.

“We wanted to get the American Sign Language students involved in the deaf community as well as getting a lot of hearing students involved as well,” Sendejo said.

Silent Raiders helps the Student Disability Services in accomplishing this goal. This group, formed of both hearing and hearing impaired students, focuses on using American Sign Language for not only practicing for classes, but also as a way of reaching the hearing impaired community of Lubbock.

“We usually try to have some deaf people at every meeting because sign language is the sole language of deaf people,” said Danielle Pedigo, a senior early childhood development major from Belton. “We need to practice working with people in the deaf community. It is a really important part of sign language.”

The club hosts various events throughout the year serving and interacting with the hearing impaired community. Members attend silent dinners, community deaf chats and other events thrown by groups on campus. The community deaf chats happen on the first Friday of every month at Daybreak Coffee.

“It’s all of the deaf people from the community, sign language students from Tech and surrounding high schools, that come and sit around in the coffee house and we just drink coffee and talk in sign language,” said Rebecca Markes, a freshman pre-occupational therapy major from Murphy.

Other than interacting with people who are hearing impaired, Silent Raiders hopes to open peoples’ minds and broaden their perceptions of what deaf people are like.

“A lot of hearing people think that deaf people are broken and need to be fixed, but that’s not the case” said Melinda Stuart, president of Silent Raiders and a junior general studies major from Lubbock. “Deaf people will tell you ‘I don’t need to be fixed.’ They don’t consider themselves disabled, but they are just a different culture and there are differences between the two.”