April 8-10 marked the fourth Deaf Studies Today! Conference held since its founding in 2004. It is the largest deaf studies conference in the U.S., and was founded by UVU faculty.
Held bi-annually, the conference is a conglomerate of local, national, and international professionals in the deaf studies field, as well as deaf community members and American Sign Language students.
According to the conference Website, “[it] has also become an important cultural ‘place’ where Deaf people gather to create, renew and maintain relationships.”
For the conference, all ASL classes were canceled and students were required to attend workshops and volunteer, whatever their signing level. Beginning and intermediate sign language students were allowed to photograph, greet, and answer questions at the information booth, while students with higher levels of signing competence introduced and assisted speakers.
Ingrid Butron, who graduated from UVU withher B.A. in deaf studies last December, has been a part of the conference since its beginning, and was able to help organize it this year as a student intern.
“They really put me on an even field with the faculty,” she said.
For the months leading up to the conference, she became a personal assistant, volunteer coordinator, and even helped create the logo for the conference’s “Engaging Theory and Action” theme.
Rebecca Allred, the ASL Club president and a deaf studies major, was also involved in the conference. She introduced several speakers and attended the conference all weekend.
“It’s a great place for those who are wanting to get into the interpreting field,” she said. “We had some of the best interpreters in the U.S. fly in.”
This year, over 35 workshops were held over the 3-day period, and a film festival was introduced to the conference schedule. The conference ended with a tribute to Dr. Lawrence R. Fleischer, the father of the deaf studies discipline.