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Deaf studies plans to educate students, state about community

Boston University Professor Bruce Bucci, who took over as coordinator of the programs in deaf studies in Fall 2011, said he plans to increase deaf awareness at BU and throughout the state.

“I’m stepping up,” he said in a phone interview via an interpreter. “My vision for BU deaf studies program is to increase awareness about deaf studies and deaf people in general.”

Bucci began working with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with the No Child Left Behind Act to ensure that deaf students are not ignored by the system.

“We need to promote to deaf schools and non-deaf schools that BU exists as a resource,” he said.

Bucci said the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System is not really accessible for deaf children at this time, but they are working to change that.

On campus, deaf studies has worked on outreach efforts to promote deaf culture for deaf studies and American Sign Language students to experience. Deaf studies plans to host the fourth annual Deaf Deaf World on Monday, during which deaf studies and ASL students will communicate in ASL. The series of conversations are held on the second floor of the George Sherman Union in Metcalf Ballroom.

Deaf education programs tend to focus on medical aspects, but BU’s deaf studies was structured to expand upon deaf culture, deaf history and American Sign Language, Bucci said.

“Our focus is the deaf as a whole person – we want them to be proud of who they are,” he said. “The goal is to build a bridge of acceptance and equality between the deaf and hearing communities.”

To achieve these goals, programs in deaf studies sponsor events for open communication between the deaf and hearing communities.

“Awareness about ASL and our culture will reduce the language barrier between the hearing and the deaf community,” Bucci said.

Deaf studies and the School of Education partnered with the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies to co-sponsor a discussion for April 2.

Mark Zaurov, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hamburg and a fellow the Charles H. Revson Foundation, are set to speak about his research of deaf Jewish life during World War II in Germany.

The deaf studies program has a research program, headed by Professor Robert Hoffmeister, director of The Center for the Study of Communication and the Deaf.

In an email interview with The Daily Free Press, Hoffmeister said the Center began to develop assessment instrument for deaf children to determine ASL development. The center has worked on three other projects concerning ASL and deaf education.

“If the environment is made accessible, through interpreters or where everyone knows American Sign Language, deaf people are equal participants,” he said.

The idea of the program is equality of participation and understanding between the deaf and hearing communities, Hoffmeister said.

“Our underlying theme is that being deaf does not make you disabled,” he said. “The lack of accommodation to spoken English creates a situation that places the burden on the deaf person.”

Bucci said the ASL program at BU enlightens students about the language and the deaf community.

“Many students feel good about themselves and have a good relationship with the deaf community,” he said.

College of Arts and Sciences and SED sophomore Crystal Shah, a hearing student in her second semester of ASL, said she was apprehensive about her first ASL class. However, the professor’s approach helped her understand the subject better.

“When we had our first lecture, it was just so easy to read his body language,” Shah said of her class with Professor Jason Norman. “I feel like the ASL professors are really trained to know when hearing students don’t understand what they’re trying to communicate.”

Shah said ASL changed her perspective on the deaf community.

“I actually personally didn’t even know that there was a deaf community,” she said during a phone interview. “It’s like a whole other culture that’s in America and in the world that we don’t really [know] about.”

CAS sophomore Olivia Paris-Kornilowicz, whose mother works with the deaf, said the ASL program impressed her.

“They make us go to two deaf events a semester and we also have to go to language link which is run by a deaf person so you have a lot of exposure to the deaf community,” she said. “It can be challenging at times, but other times it’s just really nice.”

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  1. The only problem is Bruce Bucci doesn’t actually want equality for both hearing and Deaf communities. He is pretty aggressive and I would label him as more of a bully than an educated, well-meaning teacher of ASL.

  2. I had to disagree with James. Bruce Bucci is very sensitive about hearing and Deaf communities. He always being assertive as provide materials about Deaf Culture. He is very big guy with soft heart. His passion is about ASL and love to share ASL with you folks.