Simulated Silence: American Sign Language students host the tenth annual Deaf Deaf World

On Sept. 29, American Sign Language 2 (ASL) students hosted the tenth annual Deaf Deaf World (DDW). Teachers could choose to bring their class for a 25 minute session or students can attend if they have a pass from Joseph Wheeler, sponsor and ASL teacher. Those who attended experienced a simulated deaf environment at school and learn about a different culture.

According to Wheeler, DDW was an all-day event in the Upper Gym where students and staff had the opportunity to learn signs directly from ASL 2 students. Wheeler said that this is usually a popular event that attracts many students and staff members.

“If you want to learn a completely different culture and a way of communication using your hands in a real-world experience, this event is perfect for you” Wheeler said.

Visitors received DDW passports that ask them to go to 15 out of the 30 unique “stores.” These “stores” represent real life grocery stores or restaurants. At each store, the visitors picked a phrase associated with the store’s theme and learn how to sign it in ASL. When done, the staff member or student placed a stamp or sticker on the DDW passport. The event had 25 minute sessions throughout the day, each session long enough for the visitors to complete 15 stores.

“(The passport) can be used as an evidence for your students to show that they learned and signed the words at the DDW event,” Wheeler said.

“(Visitors had) the chance to learn some signs, learn how to better use their hands to communicate, and learn day-to-day skills that can be used such as ordering food,” Eve Weifenbach, ASL 2 student and senior, said.

On average, Weifenbach said, 1500 to 2000 students show up to this event. “The first year we hosted DDW, it was in a LGI room and it was way too cramped and then it was moved to the Upper Gym to provide more space for it.”

According to Wheeler, this event began 10 years ago. “When I came to this school, I thought people should be more aware of the deaf and to celebrate the deaf awareness week which is always the last week of September.”

Weifenbach and her class began preparation for this event three weeks ago. “Since this event takes so long to plan the event and the logistics such as the stations and the flow.”

“My favorite part of DDW is seeing visitors who cannot communicate with their hands trying to talk with the ASL 2 students and making mistakes while doing so, especially when the mistake completely changes the meaning,” Wheeler said.