NSU Talons expands knowledge about deaf culture
TNE Editor

NSU Talons expands knowledge about deaf culture

Published 3/8/18

Sydney Russell

TNE Writer

Talons is a student-led American Sign Language organization on campus. Talons allows students to grow their knowledge of Deaf culture and learn ASL with other members. Talons also creates opportunities for students to donate and volunteer for Happy Hands Education Center.

“To become an official member of Talons, a donation must be made to Happy Hands, typically any product for early childhood care,” said Eric Holt, Talons president.

Happy Hands is an early education center in Broken Arrow that teaches children from birth to age 6 that are deaf, hard of hearing or have a communication disorder. Happy Hands is a non-profit organization.

Holt said employees at Happy Hands have a clause in their contract that states if funding is too low they may have to go without a paycheck, so Talons gives their support anyway they can.

Talon volunteers gather to help out with “Where Hands and Feet Meet 5K”, assist with children’s holiday parties, and put on a workshop on NSU Tahlequah’s campus called “Deaf Deaf World.”

Deaf Deaf World gives people an opportunity to step into the shoes of a deaf person and experience their day-to-day life. Participants are given everyday tasks to complete such as going to the doctor, booking a hotel room or attending traffic court, but they are only allowed to use manual modes of communication.

Holt said the workshop is an eye-opening experience for most people because they have little to no experience as to how difficult communication can be when nearly the whole world speaks a different language than the communicator.

“The most rewarding part of Talons is getting to know the culture and the difficulty of the language,” said Megan Mayfield, Sapulpa junior. “The second you turn your ears off, you have to change a lot of the ways you do things, and it is very challenging for someone who is hearing.”

Anyone is welcome to join Talons. No ASL knowledge is required to get involved. The organization has events that cater to advanced students as well as beginners.

“Before I came to NSU I had less than basic knowledge of ASL,” said Holt. “I had never considered that Deaf culture even existed. I learned a few basic signs when I was little, but

I never expected to find a passion in ASL like I have now. I owe a lot to Jameie Combs, Linda Hawkins, Happy Hands and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf for being so encouraging and helping me get involved with such a lively community.”

Jameie Combs, Talons faculty adviser, has been teaching at NSU for nearly 16 years. Her interest in ASL and working with the Deaf community started after reading Shel Silverstein’s “Deaf Donald.” She completed her general education at NSU and continued at Tulsa Community College in the interpreter training program. She graduated with top state certification and then received her national certification. She has more than 20 years of experience as an interpreter.

“The best part of Talons, for me, is seeing my students make connections when we’re out serving the community,” said Combs. “Also watching them use the language in real life, outside the classroom. I am so proud of my students.”

For more information, email Holt at holt13@nsuok.edu or Combs at combs@nsuok.edu.

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