Skip to main content

Deaf Awareness Week begins Sept. 21

September 10, 2008

Deaf students at ASU tend to blend in with our very large student body. Unless they come to class with a sign-language interpreter, you would never know they are hearing impaired.

Those students, and the staff who work with them, want you to know more about them, and how they live their lives communicating with American Sign Language.

To that end, ASU is sponsoring and participating in a number of events during Deaf Awareness Week, Sept. 21-28, to which the public is invited.

The week begins Sept. 21 with Deaf Awareness Kick-Off, from 11 a.m. to noon in the Education Lecture Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus.

From 1 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 21, Arizona Deaf Theatre will sponsor an afternoon with deaf actor Robert DeMayo, also in the Education Lecture Hall.

The featured activity Sept. 22 is a Silent Dinner at Tempe Marketplace, from 6 to 9 p.m. Participants will purchase food from one of the cafés, then sit together at tables outside Paradise Bakery and Cheeseburger.

The highlight of the week is the ASL Festival, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Hayden Lawn on the Tempe campus. The event includes signers, storytellers, shows and booths, sponsored by ASU and ASU’s American Sign Language Program (ASU-ASL).

Other events include:

Sept. 24: Deaf Awareness Night at Bowling, Brunswick Alley, 1754 W. Southern Ave., Mesa, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Sept. 25: Open house at Phoenix Deaf Community Center, 1545 W. Osborne Road, Phoenix, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; performance of “Anthony Natale-Evolution of a Cool Dude,” 7 p.m., Highland High School Auditorium, 4301 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert.

Sept. 26: Deaf Professionals Happy Hour at San Felipes, Tempe Marketplace, 7 to 10 p.m.; Deaf Social at Fox and Hound Restaurant, 7625 N. LaCholla Blvd., Tucson.

Sept. 27: Arizona Deaf Festival, Encanto Park, Phoenix, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., free; Hondo Open Golf tournament, Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 N. Mill Ave., Tempe, 7 p.m.; and Social Night at Phoenix Deaf Community Center, 7 p.m. to midnight.

Sept. 28: Deaf Awareness Day at Diamondbacks, Chase Field, 1:10 p.m. Tickets: $5. Sponsored by ASU-ASL.

ASU enrolls approximately 35 deaf students each year, but the number of students studying ASL is much higher. “We have roughly 800 to 1,000 students going through our ASL program on an annual basis,” said Paul Quinn, ASL program director.

Federal research shows that only one out of 1,000 people in the United States become deaf before age 18, and anywhere from 37 to 140 people out of 1,000 have some kind of “trouble” with their hearing. A large share of the latter are at least 65 years old, Quinn said.

The number of ASL users in the United States is at least 500,000.

Donna Leff, a lecturer in ASU’s ASL program, who maintains a blog listing events geared to the deaf, says that ASL is the fourth most widely studied language on college campuses, behind Spanish, French and German, and ahead of Italian.

For more information about Deaf Awareness Week events go to