Deaf Awareness Week celebrated locally

SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf students and staff are going to spend the next several days showing their hearing-capable neighbors what it's like to live in a world without sound.As part of nationwide Deaf Awareness Week observances, SWCID personnel will host several activities aimed at raising recognition of the impact the college has in Big Spring and the nation.“I don't think people truly realize just what a unique role SWCID plays in the Howard County Junior College District,” Howard College President Dr. Cheryl Sparks said. “There is not another junior college district in the nation that offers what we have here.”SWCID, the nation's only community college geared directly toward deaf and hard-of-hearing students, was founded in 1979 and has grown steadily since that time. It now serves more than 100 students, offering degrees and certificates in a wide variety of academic and workforce disciplines, Sparks said.And officials hope the upcoming Deaf Awareness Week activities bring the school's mission even more to the forefront.“The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of the deaf culture within the United States, and we've recognized Deaf Awareness Week for years to do just that,” Sparks said. “It also increases awareness of a very unique campus which is part of our junior college district.”The main public activity planned for the week will occur 7 p.m. Monday, when noted deaf artist Iris Aranda will be featured during a reception and lecture at the Hall Center for the Arts at Howard's Birdwell Lane campus. While here, Aranda also will participate in several workshops, demonstrations and talks with the students at Howard College and SWCID.SWCID students also will be in evidence around town, serving customers at Bean's World in downtown Big Spring and conducting American Sign Language seminars at the county library, Sparks said.For more information on SWCID's Deaf Awareness Week celebration, contact the school at 432-264-3700.