The most prepared and effective program in all of Utah for Deaf Studies is UVU; this is partially due to Accessibility Services, the program in charge of accommodating and providing a smooth transition for deaf students on the campus. According to the Director of Accessibility Services, Ed Martinelli, they meet the needs of all its Deaf students and welcome more.
Michelle Taylor, Associate Vice President for Student Services and Enrollement, said that bringing prospective Deaf students to the university is actually very successful. They work closely with high school coordinators and vocational rehabilitation counselors so that students may easily access information and smoothly transition to a stable college career.
However, Deaf students at this school are not included in this process even when it would seem logical to pursue it.
Chantel Marshall, a Deaf student and activist of the Deaf community, said she was not aware of any recruitment services inclined towards Deaf students, and if there were, she would like to be a part of it.
Additionally, it would reduce the perceived problem of hearing individuals communicating with those prospective Deaf students.
“Because of the language barrier,” said Taylor, “recruiting for students who are Deaf often happens directly with voc rehab counselors and Deaf Coordinators in the high schools.”
The Deaf Studies program at UVU is an internationally-acclaimed program. With additional services which accommodate deaf students, it would be to the school’s benefit to allow deaf students to go recruit, similar to other minorities.
But a language barrier exists only if one permits it; and it would be more effective, or at least influential, to use the school’s talented and bright Deaf students in assisting Deaf student recruitment. Not only will future Deaf college students have the experience of meeting and developing relationships with those who have gone through, or are currently attending, higher education institutions, but these individuals will serve as role models for younger students.
This approach would be similar to current minority recruitment programs.
Carlos Torres, a Latino student that helps lead the USA Latino program, a program dedicated to producing Latino leaders in the community, said, “It helps build our community, which is a minority community and faces very real struggles, to go ahead and work with students who are Latinos.”
Torres says that for prospective Latino students in high schools, seeing a familiar face or someone of the same heritage who understands where they are coming from is compelling. The power of a role model is also applicable to Deaf students.
The National Institute on Deafness looked into the obstacles for obtaining higher education among deaf students. The lack of Deaf role models was first on their list. Moreover, they concluded that recruiters and professionally trained interpreters were not enough to play the crucial function of role model. Younger students need to come in contact with individuals who share similar experiences and struggles.
The panel also said that “young Deaf and hard-of-hearing students may be intimidated about approaching their superiors and asking for services,” particularly when they are not Deaf themselves.
Furthermore, Deaf students and Deaf Studies majors at this university are ready to put their time and effort and commit to recruiting Deaf and hard-of-hearing students if given the chance.
When asked if he would participate in a recruitment program for Deaf students, Johnny Hill, who is deaf and currently in the Deaf Studies program, quickly signed, “Absolutely!”
As a university, this school has committed plenty of resources and opportunity to Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. The recruiting measures taken, as Taylor mentioned, were extensive and helpful to prospective Deaf students. Yet, a more effective and significant way to reach young Deaf students would be to use current Deaf college undergraduates themselves who are ready and willing.