I talk with my hands: Ask a Deaf student

Caroline Broderick, Features Editor

Melissa Vargas is a student just like us. She has aspirations. She goes to classes and is active in clubs. She even has her eyes set on an Informational Technician, has a love for volleyball and emits a passionate, excited energy.


The only thing that makes her different? She’s deaf.


Vargas was born deaf, but she doesn’t look at it as a disability. She looks at it as a gift from God and appreciates her life, knowing it has shaped her to be exactly who she should be. She is proud to be deaf.


For Disability Awareness Month, COD’s Center for Access and Accommodations is hosting an event titled “Ask a Deaf Student,” where students and teachers may meet Vargas and ask her anything they like.


“We thought it would be a great way for other students to connect on a personal level, learn some sign language, and also learn that deaf students are just like other students – with similar interests and experiences,” said Sheryl Ebersold, accommodations specialist.


“And it’s important for people to be aware of deaf [people], so then more people wouldn’t ignore us or make fun of us,” added Vargas.


On Oct. 11, Vargas sat at a table outside Starbucks, excited for the first round of “Ask a Deaf Student.”


Initially, students were perplexed and uneasy about communicating with Vargas until she prompted them to ask her questions. Without needing to know sign language, students and professors questioned her. She is able to read lips, depending on how the speaker talks, and communicates back through writing, text, or even using her own voice.


Through the event, community members were able to learn more about Vargas as a person, even learning about her experience with volleyball, and how she has a dream to form a deaf volleyball team at COD. She aspires to be the captain.

Vargas looks forward for the next event, which will run from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Oct. 25, outside Starbucks.


For the rest of Disability Awareness month, the college will host various other events to promote the understanding of disabilities in every form, such as “Please Don’t Pet My Dog.” This an informational session and Q&A about the need for service dogs and how they must be treated.
To learn more about the events visit: cod.edu/access.