Sign-language university grants degrees to the deaf

Updated 29 January 2014

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.


Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

Updated 16 November 2019

Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

  • Wildlife ranger Craig Dickmann made a split-second decision to go fishing in a remote part of Northern Australia known as ‘croc country.’
  • ‘That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws’

CAIRNS, Australia: An Australian wildlife ranger has recounted his terrifying escape from the clutches of a “particularly cunning” crocodile, after wrestling with the reptile and sticking a finger in its eye.
Craig Dickmann, who made a split-second decision to go fishing last Sunday in a remote part of Northern Australia known as “croc country” last Sunday, said a 2.8-meter (nine-foot) crocodile came up from behind him as he was leaving the beach.
“As I’ve turned to go, the first thing I see is its head just come at me,” he told reporters on Friday from his hospital bed in the town of Cairns in Queensland state.
Dickmann said the animal latched on to his thigh.
“That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws,” he said.
The 54-year-old said he wrestled with the croc on the remote beach as it tried to drag him into the water.
Dickmann stuck his thumb into its eye, saying it was the only “soft spot” he found on the “bullet-proof” animal.
“Their eyes retract a fair way and when you go down far enough you can feel bone so I pushed as far as I possibly could and then it let go at that point,” Dickmann said.
After a few minutes, he said he managed to get on top of the croc and pin its jaws shut.
“And then, I think both the croc and I had a moment where we’re going, ‘well, what do we do now?’”
Dickmann said he then pushed the croc away from him and it slid back into the water.
The ranger had skin ripped from his hands and legs in the ordeal and drove more than 45 minutes back to his home before calling emergency services.
It was then another hour in the car to meet the Royal Flying Doctors Service who flew him to Cairns Hospital, where he is recovering from the ordeal.
“This croc was particularly cunning and particularly devious,” he said.
Queensland’s department of environment this week euthanized the animal.
“The area is known croc country and people in the area are reminded to always be crocwise,” the department said in a statement.
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven meters long and weigh more than a ton, are common in the vast continent’s tropical north.
Their numbers have exploded since they were declared a protected species in the 1970s, with attacks on humans rare.
According to the state government, the last non-fatal attack was in January 2018 in the Torres Strait while the last death was in October 2017 in Port Douglas.