FHSD’s Annual Deaf Storyteller Day Brings Smiles to Students

Posted on 05/10/2019
Students attend Deaf Storyteller Event

Smiles are universal. No matter what language you speak, be it English, Spanish, Chinese, or sign language, smiles are an unspoken form of communication that symbolize joy, laughter, appreciation, and so much more. Smiles bring people together and they certainly filled the room at this year’s Deaf Storyteller event hosted by FHSD. The day provided students who are deaf or hard of hearing an opportunity to share their experiences, socialize with friends, and participate in a variety of activities.

Trix BruceAs part of the Deaf Storyteller program, the students welcomed Trix Bruce, an American Sign Language (ASL) performer, to share stories using personification, facial expressions, sound effects, and more. Bruce’s enthusiasm and audience engagement left the students laughing, cheering, and even falling over during one of her stories as the students pretended to be trees chopped to the ground. 

Many young students with hearing impairments don’t often interact with adults who have a hearing loss similar to their own, so guest performances by individuals such as Bruce can be very meaningful to them. “Students are able to see that there are deaf adults out in the world and they can be successful, too. Their hearing impairment is not going to hold them back,” said Andrea Rau, a sign language interpreter at Daniel Boone Elementary.

Students participate in activity at Deaf Storyteller DayAlong with the engaging stories, the students also learned about self-advocacy. They started the day by playing a jeopardy game, which taught them the importance of advocating for their hearing needs.  “I hope they learn it is okay to speak up,” said LaWanda Brewer, a hearing impaired resource teacher at Becky-David Elementary. “This world can be a scary place, but we’re all in this together. There are people out there who can help and who understand.” Heaven M., a student at Becky-David, explained that it is important to share your experiences. “You have to tell others your story and explain your hearing loss.”

While the students learned to advocate for themselves, they also appreciated the chance to spend the day with others who do understand what it’s like to have a hearing loss. “A lot of times it’s just about camaraderie,” said Brewer. “We all want to feel like we belong somewhere.” Students look forward to the annual event every year. “If we didn’t have deaf storyteller, we wouldn’t see the friends that we’ve met,” said Heaven excitedly.

This year’s event was held at the North Road Community Church and was made possible by the University of Missouri Extension/St. Louis Storytelling Festival. The celebration gathered together individuals who communicate in a variety of ways. Some speak with their hands, others with their voices. Some listen with their ears, and others with a device. They celebrated their unique languages, and they united in smiles and laughter.

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