Hi. I am Jeff Bravin, Executive Director here at ASD – American School for the Deaf also known as Mother School, the first Deaf School in America.
Since 200 hundred years ago when American School for the Deaf started, the number of students has kept on increasing to the point where we had 400 to 500 in the 60’s and 70’s. At that time there were many Rubella cases that were reduced. We now have 150 students here. Also, we have served 200 students in the state of Connecticut. I remember that it was very hard to communicate in a hearing school. I always needed an interpreter to relay information and it was very bothersome. Okay, the interpreter is here for me but the constant information relay really bothers me. Even while I talk to my peers, I have to get the interpreter to follow me. I have to go through the interpreter, else should I write to communicate? I remember that in the hearing school… I would see many hearing people talk amongst themselves and I felt very lonely because they thought I am Deaf. I told my parents I want to go to a Deaf school because I Sign. I do not speak. My parents, after a lot of discussions, finally agreed and I was extremely excited! When I first started ASD, I was very nervous and didn’t know what to do as I had never communicated with so many Deaf people. It was my first time in ASL. When I moved to ASD, communication was so easy, it was fun, I was doing so much! I was so comfortable. The hearing school was just ugh! Teachers taught me and I learned a lot about Deaf culture, ASL, communication, and how to talk with them. Communicating in Sign language, I felt connected. Socializing, making new friends, I have good opportunities to learn exciting things. They are not mean to me. We are united like a family. Very supportive. So valuable! Our students here are from Connecticut, also from the New England region, and also from other US states. We also have international students from different parts of the world.
The reason is to add diversity here. That is something I am proud of, making sure our students have diversity.
I love ASD because I have many opportunities which are compatible with the needs of Deaf students. We have many many different opportunities. For example, our school has correspondences, French classes, cooking, and on the road. There are lots of changes happening in the field of Deaf Education but at ASD I begin here… with the person that was brought here. He was Laurent Clerc. He was a wonderful teacher and he introduced American Sign Language. This is where he setup and now it has become the home of American Sign Language.
Why? Sign Language is like the language of my life. My language really started from ASL. I got to learn new skills all because of ASL as it helped me communicate with people. I can see the differences in culture in sign language. Little bits and bits of differences fascinated me. Everyone is different but is the same as “Deaf”
I signed when I came here. When I go home, I sign too. I should feel like myself. When I go home, I feel I have to change for them to understand what I am trying to say. But here, I can sign freely and everyone understands me well. I will rather be in my own world. I like to be involved with the Deaf language which is Sign Language. Many types of research have successfully proven that Sign Language is the best way for our students.
So we make sure that we value and give importance to ASL & English. Bilingual language. How we can make sure that these are part of students’ daily lives and their communication needs. Many opportunities for the Deaf Community to be united and I feel great. That is rich! I am comfortable, excited, making friends, signing, talking, having fun & I am happy there! I am very proud to be an ASD student because I get to be here as a student of the school that has been old for many years. Our students have more opportunities so we make sure to give them every tool so students can meet different opportunities that are available outside. I think the future is bright! I am always proud because now I have many good Deaf role models which means the institute has been doing good for so long. Now, the institute must continue doing the good and make sure our Deaf people continue to have a wonderful life ahead.
School link: https://www.asd-1817.org/
My prints: https://www.etsy.com/shop/seektheworld