The Griffith University Deaf Space has launched with a dedicated, deaf-friendly, safe study and interpreting space, to support an increasing community of Deaf students with 20 enrolments in 2023.
Centrally located at the Mt Gravatt campus, the Deaf Space is fitted to suit the needs of Deaf and hard-of-hearing people with requirements such as visual smoke alarms and door-bell lights.
The new space includes a community group meeting room, resources room, a one-on-one tutoring space, and private study areas providing a safe environment for students to gather as a community, study or watch online sessions with interpreters.
The space will also act as a base for the Deaf Student Support Program (DSSP) to interact with the Deaf students on a personal level.
Griffith DSSP provides a range of services such as professional support, Auslan interpreters, captioning services, access to assistive listening devices and transcription services.
The late Griffith Special Education Professor Emeritus Des Power AO, who advocated for the admission of Deaf students into the Mt Gravatt College of Advanced Education Teacher Training Program in 1985, originally laid the foundation for the DSSP.
Student Disability and Accessibility Manager Cathy Easte was one of the first graduates to benefit from the DSSP program in 1987.
“I am so pleased to be able to launch this Deaf Space, back where it all started in 1985, at the Mt Gravatt campus which always felt like a community space to me,” Ms Easte said.
“Griffith was the first to incorporate the provision of Auslan interpreters in university education.
“The Deaf Space is a remarkable initiative which played a significant role in promoting accessibility and inclusivity for Deaf students in Australia for more than 38 years.
“The DSSP has been instrumental in enhancing the academic, personal, and social lives of Deaf students.
“Many in the cohort plan to teach Auslan as a second language in our Queensland schools which will help to meet society’s ever-increasing demand for interpreters.
“To see so many Deaf students taking up further education, some for the first time and some returning for postgraduate study, is something close to my own heart and I know these students will be future leaders in their communities.
“Griffith has produced many Deaf leaders and there’s no reason to stop now!
“Des Power used to say if you have received a gift or a benefit, it’s your responsibility to give back and the launch of the DSSP gives us the opportunity to give back and to see impact with the success of these students and all of those who follow.
“By dissolving barriers and nurturing role models, it has encouraged Deaf students to pursue professional studies starting with deaf education and later expanding into various fields.”