Deaf Awareness Week Focuses On Improving Access, Understanding In Oklahoma

Friday, September 24th 2021, 5:13 pm
By: McKenzie Gladney

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Over the past year and a half, many people have had to learn to communicate in a new way, but for the deaf and hard of hearing community it's just brought new challenges. 

This week is deaf awareness week in Oklahoma.

"We're going through something that takes more understanding and more patience than normal," said Jennifer Boss, the Deaf Services Coordinator with the Total Source for Hearing-loss and Access.

Boss has been deaf her whole life and said she's faced many challenges.

The pandemic has brought on some new challenges for her and others who are hard of hearing.

"As numbers went down, we really got excited because we could take the masks off, and then unfortunately, we're not through this pandemic yet," said Boss.  

From the lack of interpreters at press conferences, to not being able to read lips because of mask mandates, Boss said this community has faced many difficulties. 

She said when Governor Kevin Stitt declared the week of September 20th Deaf Awareness Week in Oklahoma, it was huge.

Boss said this week is about understanding. 

"What people can do is to become more aware instead of having no understanding," said Boss. 

Boss said there are many ways to do this, but one of those is learning the basics of sign language.

"From basic communication to 'hi, hello' to make a deaf person's day better," said Boss. 

She said the best way is by just having an open mind.

"To give deaf individuals a chance. Not to just dismiss them, write them off. But, to give deaf individuals a chance to explain themselves," said Boss. 

Deaf Awareness Week ends Sunday. 

This interview was made possible using an interpreter, Diana Emerson, the program and community resources director at Total Source for Hearing-loss and Access.

To learn more about the Total Source for Hearing-loss and Access (TSHA) click here