Sign-language university grants degrees to the deaf

Updated 29 January 2014
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Sign-language university grants degrees to the deaf

The lecturer is standing in front of his class and expansively gesticulating. With both hands, he is carving out gestures in thin air. A small group of students sitting in a semi-circle watch him and one another closely.
Nearly every student at the Gallaudet University in Washington DC is deaf or has impaired hearing. Classroom instruction is conducted by means of the American Sign Language (ASL). Without visual contact to the others, communication is difficult. “Most people here know American Sign Language, so everyday conversation is a lot easier,” comments Christian Vogler. Although he has never been able to hear, the 40-year-old speaks clearly understandable German and English. The IT specialist hails from Germany. In Washington he heads Gallaudet’s Technology Access Program, a department that provides cutting-edge technology such as videophones to aid the students.
During his studies in Germany, he had to rely on reading the literature and other students’ lecture notes.
“I did have sign language interpreters for some of my classes there. But I had to look for them myself and there weren’t enough interpreters available so I had to rely on a mix of interpretation, reading, note taking and talking to fellow students,” Vogler said.
At Gallaudet University, by contrast, the complete curriculum is geared to the deaf and hearing-impaired. The university describes its program as being “unique” worldwide. US President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill in 1864 that authorized the former school to issue university-level degrees.
About 1,800 students are enrolled at the university, a bare 15 minutes’ drive from the White House.
Keith Doane is on course to complete his political science and philosophy studies next May. The 27-year-old has done his entire studies at Gallaudet. He coolly leans back in his chair while he communicates in sign language with his two hands.
Some signs resemble a fist, others show fingers rubbing against each other, yet others involve the entire hand moving in a certain direction.
A female sign-language interpreter translates his words out loud: “Some of my friends say that I am too deaf,” says Keith with a smile.
He spent his early school years with other hearing-impaired or deaf pupils. His parents also cannot hear.
“You do get accustomed to the convenience of being here in an environment where everyone is deaf. It eases your communication with your friends and your community,” he says through the intepreter.
What worries him now is the period after he graduates, when he will possibly be working with people who are able to hear.
“It is not impossible. It just takes a little time,” Keith adds. “I want to help people around the world. “Once I’ve finished graduate school in a couple of years I want to set up an NGO (a non-government organization or charity) and see if I can use that to help people around the world.


Meghan presents fashion award to wedding dress designer Waight Keller

Givency's British fashion designer Clare Waight Keller poses with her award for British designer of the year Womenswear during the British Fashion Awards 2018 in London on December 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 December 2018
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Meghan presents fashion award to wedding dress designer Waight Keller

  • The two women met in early 2018, before the designer created the dress worn by Meghan for her wedding to Harry on May 19
  • The British Fashion Awards recognized Vivienne Westwood, winner of the award for positive change, for her commitment to the environment

LONDON: Givenchy’s artistic director Clare Waight Keller Monday received the British designer of the year womenswear award from Meghan Markle, whose dress she designed for her wedding to Prince Harry.
“It is such a pleasure to be here celebrating British fashion,” Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, said at the star-studded annual Fashion Awards at the Albert Hall.
The former US actress, who is pregnant, praised the “vision,” “creativity” and also “the incredible kindness” of Waight Keller.
The two women met in early 2018, before the designer created the dress worn by Meghan for her wedding to Harry on May 19.
The British Fashion Awards also recognized Vivienne Westwood, winner of the award for positive change, for her commitment to the environment.
The 77-old high priestess of punk took the opportunity to denounce the “rotten financial system” which the dame said was “the cause of all our problems.”
A long-time political campaigner, she also took aim at French President Emmanuel Macron who recently canceled fuel tax increases in the face of the “yellow vest” protests.
“This tax hurts the poor more than anybody,” Westwood said, adding “he’s not thinking that he has already given all these tax breaks to the rich people. So of course everybody is going to be annoyed.”
The model of the year award went to 17-year-old Kaia Gerber, following in the footsteps of her mother, former supermodel Cindy Crawford.
“It’s such an honor,” said the young American, on the verge of tears. “I have just a small role in making a creative vision come to life but I’m so beyond grateful to be a part of it.”
Among the other awards, Italian fashion house Gucci was named brand of the year and Italian Pierpaolo Piccioli, artistic director of Valentino, won the best designer award.