The Oklahoma State Fair will mark a day-long observance Thursday of the language of Oklahoma’s deaf community and offer a glimpse of the unique needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
In honor of National Deaf Awareness Week, which runs through Saturday, members of the state Rehabilitation Services Department will be in the Carriage Hall Building from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. providing information about support offered through the department’s programs. Agency staff members will perform songs and skits in American Sign Language.
According to estimates from Gallaudet University, a liberal arts college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, more than 113,600 deaf and 162,000 hard-of-hearing people live in Oklahoma.
Jim Ward, public information officer for the Rehabilitation Services Department, said many people are intimidated by trying to communicate with the deaf.
"It’s generally acceptable to tap a deaf person lightly on the shoulder or arm or to wave with a hand or a piece of paper or cloth to get their attention,” he said.
Ward said while many of the deaf use American sign language, several do not.