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Ole Miss Hand Band Makes Learning Sign Language Fun


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The Ole Miss Handband is a student group with over 60 students who promote awareness about the deaf community in Oxford and the University of Mississippi.

Across the United States, approximately 1,000,000 people suffer from deafness, and there are an average of three deaf students in each graduating class at Ole Miss according to Taylor Gurley, secretary of Handband.

“Ole Miss is very equipped to help not only the deaf students on campus, but also people in the Oxford community,” Gurley. “There is a speech and hearing center and a center for students with disabilities on campus where anyone can go for help.”

Deafness affects many people directly and indirectly, and the Ole Miss Handband makes learning about it fun and exciting.

Handband members Martha Guariglia and Taylor Gurley
Handband members Martha Guariglia and Taylor Gurley

“Our main goal as a club is to promote awareness about the deaf community in Oxford and Ole Miss, and to teach sign language to as many students as possible,” said Martha Guariglia, Vice President of Handband.

The advisor for Handband, Rebecca Lowe, works for the speech and hearing center on campus and works hard to inform members about what they do to help these students.

“Students can receive a variety of our services,” Lowe said. “We offer everything from hearing screenings, hearing evaluations, and hearing aids, to speech and language therapy. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students can also receive speech, language, literacy and listening therapy if they so desire.”

The Handband performs Christmas carols at the Scott Center, which is the special education center for schools in Oxford, and performs the National Anthem at football games every fall.

Another popular event for the Handband is the Signing Rave. The Signing Rave is an event held each spring semester by the Handband in front of the Student Union. The signing rave is currently planned for Thursday, April 21.

At the Rave, members of the organization learn popular songs that most people know, and perform them in sign language while the music plays in the background. Several students stand outside to watch and enjoy this show put on by the Handband.

“My favorite thing to do with the Handband is the Signing Rave because it lets people know who we are and what we do,” Guariglia. “The Signing Rave shows how fun our organization is and gets everyone involved.”

Handband members sign "I love you"
Handband members sign “I love you”

The most popular majors of the members of the Handband, who are also students at Ole Miss, are occupational therapy, communications science and disorders and speech pathology. These students have a passion for learning and teaching sign language, and they feel strongly about helping children with communication disabilities.

“I think that everyone should learn sign language because it will help you in the real world with things you wouldn’t even expect,” Guariglia said.

For more information on the Ole Miss Handband visit http://csd.olemiss.edu/contact-us/handband/

Allie Kmec is an intern for hottytoddy.com. She is currently a student at the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Allie can be reached at arkmec7@gmail.com.

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