Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone gets grant for Deaf Studies lab

By Matthew Artz.

Saturday, March 6, 2010—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—Ohlone College soon will have a new computer laboratory where American Sign Language will be the lingua franca.

The college, which is home to about 200 deaf students and a 650-student Deaf Studies division, expects to open the lab by the end of this summer with a $200,000 grant from the East Bay Community Center.

The Deaf Studies/American Sign Language Computer Laboratory will provide a hub for deaf students and hearing students learning American Sign Language to study and interact with each other, said Genie Gertz, dean of Ohlone's Deaf Studies division.

With the California School for the Deaf just a few miles away, Ohlone has a lot of deaf students as well as a nationally recognized program for hearing students to learn American Sign Language and become interpreters.

But the two student groups don't get enough opportunities to socialize, Ohlone officials said.

While deaf students use computer labs spread out across the campus, American Sign Language students are relegated to a small lab with old videocassettes and other outdated equipment they use to study the visual language, Gertz said.

The new lab will have up to 40 work stations where hearing students can study American Sign Language and deaf students can work on their studies, Gertz said. Cohabitation should help hearing students learn the language and deaf students meet new peers.

The lab will be in Building 6 of the Fremont campus, which already is home to the interpreter program.

The East Bay Community Foundation obtained the grant money from the estate of Evelyn Henderson, who worked at the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley before it moved to Fremont in 1980.

"Henderson's donation has been amazingly generous," Gertz said. "We're very grateful that she considered our program."

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