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Last year 300 people attended the inaugural conference to explore the multifaceted experiences of Deaf lives and celebrate Deaf culture, community, and history
Lara Leilani Matthias
Most hearing people have little or no interaction with the Deaf community, and although they may not think they have a direct connection to deafness, important intersections exist. This month Hampshire College will host DEAFinitions, the second annual Deaf Studies Conference, providing a space for all individuals to discover and explore the multifaceted experiences of Deaf lives and celebrate Deaf culture, community, and history.
The event, which takes place March 25 and 26, is produced by students in the Hampshire College American Sign Language (ASL) Collective in conjunction with sponsors inside and beyond the Five College Consortium.
Last year 300 people attended the conference, which was planned by Five College students. This year’s organizers are three returning members of the committee — Hampshire’s Julia Kersten; Susannah Wright, of UMass; and Katie Tyler, from Mount Holyoke — and two newcomers, Brianna Deane, also from Hampshire; and Tori Schaer, at Smith.
Among presenters will be Deaf genderqueer comic creator and illustrator Carlisle Robinson, Deaf YouTuber Rikki Poynter, Deaf farmer and handyman Stuart Soboleski, and writer and lecturer Dr. Simon J. Carmel, whose work includes articles on Deaf folklore, community, and culture.
The conference aims to inspire attendees to think about ways to create equally accessible spaces and services. It also hopes to promote Deaf culture by providing a space in which Deaf artists, performers, academics, and other individuals are able to celebrate what makes Deaf culture unique.
The event will take place in Franklin Patterson Hall and is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
ASL interpreters and captioning services will be available.