Of ETSU’s 200 plus student organizations, one of them is working to be seen, not heard. But now Silent Bucs is turning up the volume.
Silent Bucs is a student organization that offers a support system and addresses specific issues that affect students who are deaf or hearing impaired.
One of the main objectives of Silent Bucs is to spread awareness about the deaf community and to bring attention to the difficulties that many of them face in a college setting. Silent Bucs also encourages the use of American Sign Language.
Bethany Barker, president of Silent Bucs and current nursing student, is a graduate of Gallaudet University, a private university for the deaf and hearing impaired.
“To me, Silent Bucs is a place of solace, it’s a safe place for us to get together to share our experiences, because we communicate in the same language, and to work together in solidarity on the issues we face every day,” Barker said.
In order to help spread awareness, Silent Bucs is hosting events on campus as a part of Deaf Awareness Week.
On Monday and Wednesday, Silent Bucs will have an information booth for students who want to learn more or get involved with their cause. Also a “Deafoween” ASL Slam, much like a poetry slam, will be held in the Cave on Wednesday night and they will be selling t-shirts for students to purchase.
Baker also spoke of audism, or the “oppression of the ear,” in terms of privileges and accessibility for those who don’t have that ability. Along with that, she spoke about her culture with pride.
“The [deaf] culture is beautiful, and I want to spread that concept so that hearing people can understand and appreciate that,” Baker said.
Silent Bucs is also partnering with the audiology program at ETSU to provide free hearing exams for students.
Baker said it’s important that they work together with audiologists because they are the first person that parents of deaf children visit, and they show that there are several options for deaf children’s success.
One goal for Silent Bucs is to increase the amount of certified interpreters and ASL communication in the classroom, not only for younger children, but for the collegiate as well. Another goal is to partner with other organizations on campus to bring in guest speakers like Nyle DiMarco, Matt Maxey and Sean Forbes to speak on deaf culture and their experiences.
Baker hopes that this week will help spread awareness of the issue to other members of the campus community and beyond.
“We want people to ask questions,” Baker said. “The more hearing people know, the more they are exposed, and then the more they tell their friends.”