ASL Awareness Week Brings Thoughtful Discussion to the Forefront

Published on 11 May 2018

According to the World Health Organization, 5 percent of the world’s population has disabling hearing loss. At St. Louis College of Pharmacy, this special population has not gone unnoticed by the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) and the American Sign Language (ASL) Club.

During the week of April 5-14, SNPhA hosted ASL Awareness Week on campus to help promote understanding when communicating with patients who have hearing loss or are considered deaf. The week served as a reminder to current students about the importance of providing alternative techniques and approaches to accommodate all people, including those who have disabilities.

"A disability affects everyone, not just the person who has it,” said Steven Kramer, junior at the College, president of ASL Club and member of SNPhA. “When we provide support, everyone can be successful.”

Events included presentations on disability awareness in medical settings and a presentation on deaf culture history at Washington University School of Medicine Bernard Becker Medical Library. Students and faculty also took part in a fundraiser for IMPACT Center for Independent Living (CIL), a self-help, advocacy organization in Alton, Illinois, that helps those with disabilities achieve independence.

“This week was dedicated to spreading awareness, and during this time, SNPhA members gained additional skills to help patients with disabilities,” he said. “By the end of the week, we were able to put what we learned into practice at the Health and Resource Fair at IMPACT CIL.”

The Health and Resource Fair for All People with Disabilities provided free health screenings, educational information about assistive technology and helped to raise awareness about support services and resources for people with disabilities. ASL interpreters were also on-hand during the event, and members of the community had the opportunity to participate in a beginner’s sign language class.

“For people with disabilities to have better access to health care, it will require education for all health care professionals to learn how to serve this group,” Kramer said. “It is my goal to ensure that people with disabilities will be empowered to ask for help.”

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