By Kelly Kim and the ASL Immersion Committee
Hands were waving for DEAF, Inc.’s 2015 Voices Off! - ASL Immersion. The second annual Voices Off!, which took place on Saturday, February 28, was a fun, jam-packed full-day ASL experience.
Thirty-six students, some with basic ASL skills, others who have been using ASL for years, came together to immerse themselves in the ASL language and culture, and support each other in developing their skills and fluency. During the day, they participated in workshops on DeafBlind experience and communication, taught by Elaine Ducharme and Lori Gonzalez; fingerspelling, taught by Kelly Kim; numbers and numbering, taught by Jim Lipsky; the family tree, taught by Jill Hatcher; and facial expressions, taught by Tim Riker.
As always, the day started with registration, breakfast and an ice-breaker. Students “turned their voices off” for the day. To get to know each other and start practicing their ASL, students were sent on a scavenger hunt. Each had a different set of characteristics and they had to find someone who matched them, like “Find someone who has an older sister”. During the day, they played games, like Deaf Jeopardy and Charades, led by Kendra Timko-Hochkeppel.
As part of the DeafBlind experience, students got the opportunity to wear special goggles that interfered with their sight in different ways. Some distorted what they saw or narrowed their vision to a very small point. Other goggles blocked their sight altogether. They took turns guiding each other around the area. They could practice using tactile ASL — signing into each other’s hands. With the help of DeafBlind Interpreters who volunteered during the day, Elaine and Lori showed off the new conversation and interactive method called Pro-Tactile.
Other ASL-English interpreters volunteered during the day - Rachel Judelson, Mikey Krajnak, Lena Laferriere, Joe McEachin, Celia Michau, Sara Patterson, Deborah Perry, Janine Sirignano, and Charley Thorn. ASL users from the Deaf community who volunteered for the day provided support in the workshops, conversation practice for students, and offered corrections and tips to expand students’ practical use of ASL. Volunteers included– Marlene Coleman, Dan Foley, Joan Hannah, Ellen Kennedy, Graham Lyons, Colleen McGilpin, Robin Raymond-Meehan, Steven Simmons, April Smith, and Matthew Tran.
During meals, there was time to socialize in ASL, get to know new friends, ask questions and share stories. Students, volunteers, and instructors enjoyed breakfast, lunch, and dinner, thanks to donations from local business (Bazaar Foods, Boston Liquors, Dunkin Donuts, Grasshopper Restaurant, In-house Café, Price Chopper, Stop and Shop (Allston), Starbucks Coffee donated by Sharon Applegate, Trader Joe’s (donated by Tim Riker), and from the kitchens of our own Sharon Applegate and Kendra Timko-Hochkeppel. We are grateful for the support of our business neighbors, and we encourage our friends to support them, too.
Photo credit: Daniel Peters
Tom Keydel, DEAF, Inc.’s Board President, is retiring from the Board at the end of December, 2014. For the past 7 years, Tom has been a committed member of the Board, a tireless contributor, and a wonderful fund-raiser for DEAF, Inc. Before becoming Board President, Tom served for 3 ½ years as Board Treasurer.
Tom has supported DEAF, Inc. not only with his time and energy but financially as well. He has always believed in DEAF, Inc.’s mission and goals. Throughout his tenure, Tom has contributed his time and expertise to almost all of the Board’s committees, including (but not limited to) the Strategic Planning Committee, the Fundraising Committee, and the Finance Committee. You will often see Tom at DEAF, Inc. events, such as our spring Run/Walk for Deaf Pride at the James Joyce Ramble; Flatbread’s fundraiser; our Annual Community Meetings; and the Annual Deaf Community Thanksgiving dinners. Tom’s most recent initiative is a GoFundMe matching-gift campaign to support Communication Access services at DEAF, Inc.
Tom will continue working with DEAF, Inc. in an adjunct capacity, serving on our ASL Expansion Campaign Committee and our Anniversary Committee, which is planning for DEAF, Inc.’s upcoming 40th anniversary.
Thank you, Tom, for all you’ve done for DEAF, Inc. as a dedicated volunteer and member of our Board of Directors.
The Boston Evening Clinic Foundation has awarded Project HOPE a grant to support access to health information and health services for Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, and Late-Deafened people. The Boston Evening Clinic takes a special interest in programs, like Project HOPE, that help address barriers people’s access to health information and health care. DEAF, Inc. and Project HOPE appreciate the strong partnership we have with the Boston Evening Clinic Foundation and the difference they help make for our community.
At Staff Appreciation Day on Friday, August 8, the Board honored staff with a picnic and boating at Cochituate State Park. Thank you to our wonderful and dedicated staff for all your hard work during the past year and every year. You are truly the best! Thanks also to the Cochituate State Park staff, and to Boating in Boston, who donated 2 hours on the water in kayaks, standing paddle boards, and pedal boats. Thank you for making this the best Staff Appreciation Day yet.