Students and faculty speak out after the International Day of Sign Languages rally
By Alyssa Gallano
On Sunday Sept. 23, deaf communities across the country rallied together for the International Day of Sign Languages and to convince legislation to make sign language the third official language of Canada.
Canadians in each province walked in support for Indigenous sign language (ISL), Langue des Signes Québécoise (LSQ) and American sign language (ASL).
Cheryle Broszeit is a deaf person, ASL user and instructor at the Red River College Deaf Studies and American Sign Language – English Interpretation program. She thinks the change would be better for the deaf community in the long run.
“[This would bring] more access to interpreters and would bring up the standard of living for all deaf people,” says Broszeit.
Broszeit says that if the legislation passed, deaf people could be provided with more interpreters and create buildings with the deaf community in mind.
“Who pays for interpreters? Does a deaf person have to pay for these services?” said Broszeit.
Public places such as airports, Broszeit says, are built with speakers and monitors for everyday patrons but leave deaf people questioning flight changes and announcements.
“Of course, it would be beneficial,” said Kaniel Mabe, a first-year student in the Deaf Studies program at Red River College. “The deaf community [right now is] an afterthought.”
Mabe also expressed the need for more interpreters in the city and says that with how fast the world is moving, better services for the deaf community should come sooner.
Erin Lundgren, a first-year student in the Deaf Studies program who attended Sunday’s rally, expressed that bringing ASL as a language to be taught in the classroom like English and French would make it easier to communicate.
Lundgren said that smaller communities do not have interpreters on staff and should have an interpreter on stand-by just in case a deaf person needs to be accommodated.
Red River College’s Deaf Studies program is a 10-month full-time certificate program, located at the Notre Dame campus, which focuses on deaf culture and history.
“I enjoy all of my classes,” Lundgren said. “I didn’t realize I was ignorant about aspects of deaf life [before this program]. It’s good to take the point of view from someone else’s history.”
September 23 marked the first annual International Day of Sign Languages as part of the International Week of the Deaf.