SignLanguage008Educators for the deaf and hard of hearing from all over California will convene at Fresno State for the 2016 CAL-ED Conference Feb. 26-28. Participants will be exposed to workshops and presentations from worldwide speakers, meant to provide growth and learning opportunities to those working in the field.

CAL-ED, the California Educators for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, is one of the largest professional organizations in the west, consisting of educators, parents, teachers, interpreters and professionals dedicated to the educational excellence for deaf and hard of hearing children.

SignLanguage003The three-day conference will kick off on Friday, Feb. 26 with a variety of special interest groups and the Lecture in the Silent Garden, which will address Latino families with deaf and hard of hearing children. Keynote speaker Irma Sanchez, founder of Los Angeles-based nonprofit Deaf Latinos, will discuss resources and ways to overcome communication challenges. The free, public lecture will be from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in North Gym 118 (5305 N. Campus Dr.).

Also on Friday will be the Celebration of Diversity, which will bring together deaf and hard of children from throughout Fresno county and surrounding areas in the Valley. Hosted by the American Sign Language Club and the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies, the event allows young students to interact and engage in fun activities, while being exposed to the deaf community. The event will be at the University Residential Dining Hall from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Dr. Peter Crume, assistant professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies and one of the co-chairs of the conference, said providing learning opportunities at the conference for deaf and hard of hearing children is important.

“A lot of deaf and hard of hearing children live in isolation and are not aware of the broader deaf community,” said Peter Crume, assistant professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies  “These events are made to engage kids and so it’s a very powerful thing for them. It’s a great chance for them to be inspired and know that it’s okay to be deaf.”

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John Maucere in “SuperDeafy”.

Saturday, Feb. 27 will consist of workshops throughout the day. In the evening, there will be a free and public showing of the film, “No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie“, starring John Maucere, a well-known entertainer and advocate, recognized for his exemplary service to the deaf and hard of hearing community. Held in the Satellite Student Union from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Maucere will talk about his experience as a deaf actor in Hollywood and his hopes of inspiring the deaf and hard of hearing community.

The last day of the conference, Feb 28, will consist of a parent panel that will discuss the benefits of using a bilingual approach to communicate effectively with their deaf and hard of hearing children.

Crume said having the conference at Fresno State, expected to bring about 300 people to the Valley, will expose both students and educators to opportunities in the Valley, and raise the profile of the University.

“We have lot to give in terms of how we can contribute to the deaf and hard of hearing community and we also are part of the cutting edge training that goes on within the field, so I think it’s important that participants get a sense of what we see as important in the future,” Crume said. “Certainly we are very passionate about what we do and we really want to serve the deaf community, whom are very underserved in many ways.”

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Faculty from the College of Health and Human Services will be among the many workshop presenters at the three-day event. Dr. Nancy Delich, assistant professor of Social Work, and Dr. Stephen Roberts, associate professor of Audiology, will address an increased awareness of mental health issues facing deaf and hard of hearing children in schools – as well as another workshop on establishing effective communication skills.

Assistant Professors of Deaf Education, Dr. Janice Smith-Warshaw and Dr. Serena Johnson, will jointly present “The Future and Philosophy of the Deaf Studies Programs at Fresno State” which will look at Fresno State’s ASL/English bilingual philosophy. Smith-Warshaw will also present on visual language technology and the “21st century D/HH Classroom”.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Gerry Buckley, president and CEO of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and vice president of Rochester Institute of Technology; as well as Dr. Laura Ann Petitto, science director of the National Science Foundation and Gallaudet University’s Science of Learning Center.

“It’s quite an honor to showcase Fresno State and the work we do here,” Crume said. “Ultimately, the goal is to make a really big impact in the deaf community, while we can, over that weekend.”

The CAL-ED organization, established in 1960, supports quality education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing by providing a network of support and information for teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

For more information, contact Peter Crume at pcrume@csufresno.edu or 559.278.0351.