:: Coshocton Tribune | OU-Chillicothe pair advocates for deaf ::

OU-Chillicothe pair advocates for deaf

CHILLICOTHE — A student-mentor program at Ohio University-Chillicothe didn’t just help freshman Cyle Long with his studies when it paired the deaf student with an upperclassman who could translate in sign language.

Long and his mentor, a 50-year-old who has a deaf son, bonded over their common professional goal of advocating for the deaf.
  
“I don’t want deaf people to feel like they’re all alone,” said Long, who has only partial hearing from an inner-ear implant.

Through high school, Long had interpreting help and an education plan for special needs students. When he got to the university, he had trouble finding people to take notes and translate for him, and it was too difficult to split his attention between a professor, interpreter and an assistant during classes.

The university’s pilot mentoring program seemed like a good fit, and he was paired with senior Jill Thompson, a psychology major with a deaf son.

“I’ve been signing for 20 years, so I can tell when he’s starting to get lost,” Thompson said. “I can just look at him out of the corner of my eye and tell.”

The pairing is one of about ten mentorships that administrators set up during winter quarter at the university’s satellite campus about 45 miles south of Columbus. The program trains upperclassmen to help students who may have trouble adjusting to university environments.

“There’s a real need to have people who can help,” said Ann Rumble, faculty supervisor and assistant psychology professor. “I think colleges and universities can be intimidating. Students don’t always want to approach us.”

Now Thompson attends class with Long, taking notes and interpreting when he needs it. He learned sign language first and treats English like a second language because he didn’t learn it until the sixth grade when he got a cochlear implant.

Thompson has noticed changes since they started working together — he’s more outgoing and willing to ask questions in class.

“The longer I go, the better I’ll get,” Long said.

The two share a common goal to advocate for deaf people despite having different academic ambitions. Thompson is a psychology major. Long wants to use his degree to teach sign language to high school students, a decision he made after he saw his cousin, who also is deaf, being teased by classmates.

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