September highlights the importance of Deaf culture and community  


Dominique Martinez-Powell |

Kacia Houston signs to Seth Jacobs at an ASL Club meeting Sept, 24 2021 at the Student Center in Carbondale, Ill.

September is Deaf Awareness Month, a time to celebrate the history of Deaf culture, and to continue to work on advocating for the rights of deaf communities.

“Every year we do a movie based on Deaf culture and a picnic. That way people can eat, and sign at the same time,” said Luiie Barrera, president of the American Sign Language Club at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. “This year we’re going to try to do more events that are deaf friendly.” 

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are also many different degrees of hearing loss that can be treated based on the level of damage caused to someone’s ability to hear. 


Braden Eaton, a former member of the ASL club at SIU-C, said he wanted to learn sign language to help include other people, and be able to have conversations with them. 

“So being in the ASL club allows them to learn little pieces of the alphabet, ‘hello, good morning,’ little tiny stuff you would teach little kids,” Eaton said. “It actually makes a Deaf person’s day even better because it shows you’re trying to learn another language, and that you’re respecting it.” 

Barrera encourages people to learn ASL, even if it’s just the alphabet.

“Learn some basic phrases, ‘How are you?’ It will brighten up that person’s day” Barrera said. “Because that person knows that a hearing person is learning their form of communication.” 

Brittany Frederick, an assistant lecturer and American Sign Language section head, said she first learned ASL from a friend’s sister who was Deaf. 

Frederick said she loved learning the language, and decided to become an interpreter. Now, Frederick teaches ASL classes at SIU-C. 

When teaching ASL, Frederick uses games to engage her students. 


“I will try to incorporate games so it’s hands-on learning, when they’re practicing to learn numbers, I play Go Fish because they’re doing something fun and entertaining but they have to do the whole thing silently,” Frederick said. 

 Frederick said it’s important not to assume deaf people can’t hear at all.

“Don’t talk about a person just because you think they can’t hear you,” Frederick said. “ That’s very very rude. It’s rude to talk about people in general, but especially when you assume they can’t hear you.” 

Frederick said she wants to make sure that the Deaf community is respected, just like any other hearing person. 

Frederick said there are many different ways students can learn ASL, even if it’s just the manual alphabet or simple phrases. 

Frederick said technology has become very helpful to the Deaf community, especially when speaking to someone who doesn’t know sign language because not only can you communicate using chat features of typing out conversations, but social media also plays a large part in spreading awareness. 

Barrera said if you’re familiar with Tik Tok, searching “Deaf people” or “ASL,” will provide you with some basic information about sign language. A couple of popular Tik Tokers who give ASL lessons, spread awareness, and are just comfortable talking about their Deafness are @slntworlddd and @jacelyn.fincher. 

The ASL club hosts “Table Talks,” meetings that encourage the use of ASL. These meetings are held every Wednesday and Friday from 6-7 p.m. in the Student Center in activity room A. 

Editor’s note: Some, but not all, members of the Deaf community prefer to capitalize the word Deaf when referring to people, culture and communities. We are honoring that preference here. Staff reporter can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.