Oklahoma State Fair day helps advance deaf awareness

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: September 27, 2009
Shanna Cater wheeled her 6-month-old son around in a stroller at the Oklahoma State Fair. She let him sleep as her hands flew in a flurry of signs to friends.

The McLoud mom was one of hundreds of deaf people who visited the fair Thursday as part of Deaf Awareness Day. Last week was National Deaf Awareness Week.

More than 13,000 Oklahomans are deaf, and more than 160,000 others are hard of hearing, according to the state Rehabilitative Services Department.

A broken inner ear nerve left Cater deaf when she was an infant. She attended public school and has spent most of her life around hearing people. She said she tries to teach others to sign whenever she can.

"It’s real exciting to meet new friends that way,” she said.

Mari Buckley, who coordinated Deaf Awareness Day at the fair, said the deaf and hearing communities should interact as much as possible. It makes people on both sides more comfortable around one another.

The state Rehabilitative Services Department

answers common questions about the deaf community.

Do all deaf people know sign

language? No.

Although many use American Sign

Language, deaf people also use several other sign systems.

What’s an acceptable way to get a deaf person’s

attention? Tap

him or her on the shoulder or arm or wave your hand.

Is it helpful to shout when talking to someone who is hard of hearing? No. Shouting

distorts both your words and your lip movements.

Can all deaf and hard of hearing people read lips? No, though some are very skilled at reading lips.

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