Melanie Droughts Deaf Event Excited, I was truly excited because Eve always wanted to visit a Deaf school and today was the day I would be visiting the Pennsylvania school for the Deaf (SD). A school located in the suburban neighborhood of 100 West School House Lane and there we were welcomed! Our tour guide was all smiles as we entered the visitor center full of amazing architecture and beautiful showcases of student work hanging on walls.A group of three we were and were all students at some university in Pennsylvania.
She let us know that one of the people that built the building was deaf himself and left in mind that this was going to be a school for deaf students and made it to their benefit including floor color changes when near a classroom door. The rooms where large and full of resources for the students to use. There at SD were students ranging from early childhood education to twelfth grade. Over 200 students attended this institution.Not every student there was deaf. Some there Just attended the early childhood program where they shared a classroom with other kids ho were deaf and played together. Our tour guide signed and spoke English simultaneously for us who are Just beginning to learn sign.
Our tour guide wasn’t deaf but her daughter had meningitis at the age of two which caused her to become deaf. Immediately she started to take classes and learned sign language. Her daughter attended SD at a young age; from then on she began working there herself.
All the staff must be able to sign even if it is introductory sign language. I was already falling in love with the school and didn’t even begin my tour yet. As the our guide signed I began to learn some new words.
Two words that I learned were Disney World which involved hands making the shape of Mackey mouse’s’ ears and school day which was a clap and formed arms like a clock going down for day. The tour guide only finger spelled certain things such as acronyms and names of people which were very easy to understand.Some of the things in class that I see used were getting a deaf persons attention where they simply waved the hands in the air. Also as our tour guide was talking and signing to us in a small area a man who needed to sat waited till she was done signing and he then excused himself so that he could pass through. We walked through the high school and watched a class in session.
As we watched the teacher interact with his Science class we noticed how they never looked up at us and paid very close attention to the teacher as he signed so that they wouldn’t miss anything.I thought that was very interesting. He began to make facial expressions as he asked questions another thing Eve learned in class. Everyone used sentences. It made it very easy to understand when using these two techniques. I also noticed how the faculty signed with each other. Keeping their signs clear and looking at each other’s faces at all times.
One conversation I was able to engage with was the principal of the High School where she asked me my name and what school I attended. Luckily it was something Eve learned and was easily signed to her regardless if it was slow.She shook her head showing she understands and signed “the castle” which was used to describe Arcadia. I made some very small errors such as the way my fingers were facing when doing the castle but regardless she was able to understand me. The tour began to become cooler and cooler as we went in the higher grades and saw the progression in learning and connection the teacher had with the students. The Pennsylvania school of Deaf was amazing! The friendliness of the students/staff, the eagerness to learn, the quiet beautiful campus and the family bond everyone held drew me in.It was amazing to see how those who were even rearing such as the Young 4 and 5 year olds played with the deaf 4 and 5 year olds as if there was no language barrier between them. Everyone was very close knit and it showed regardless if one is hearing and one is deaf they were equal.
I felt an interest in learning more about the school and some of the events they held. I was added to their email list and learned that they also did volunteer opportunities which I am also interested in. Eventually when I am good enough in my SSL I can go back and help volunteer in any way shape or form! Can’t wait for my second visit !