ROCHESTER, N.Y. — In honor of March being National Deaf History Month, some organizations are highlighting efforts to be more inclusive.
That includes a museum in Rochester dedicated to creating a day of understanding and fun with their Deaf Day of Play.
For members of the deaf community like Ace Gray, accessibility can sometimes be an obstacle.
“I feel like there’s a lot of places I want to go to but I don’t have the correct accessibility,” said Ace Gray, a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the deaf.
But for the second year in a row, the Strong Museum of Play has teamed up with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and the Rochester School for the Deaf to bring more accessibility to play.
“The deaf population here in Rochester is very strong and we feel as though it’s a very part of our community and we want to do everything we can to be as inclusive as possible and allow everyone the opportunity to play here at the museum,” said Cathy DeBellis, senior director of public programs at the Strong Museum of Play.
It’s not only giving the whole community the chance to play, but also the chance to understand some of the obstacles Gray and their peers face on a regular basis.
“Obviously having interpreters set up all over Rochester all the time would just be perfect but that’s not always an option,” Gray said.
“Deafness is an invisible disability,” said Serena Rush, another student at NTID. “So many people often come up to me and don’t realize that I’m deaf and when they find out then they get intimidated by all these barriers.”
But they are barriers Rush believes can be broken through events like this that highlight inclusivity and help spread awareness.
“I think for the deaf community and the hearing community it’s nice to have the space to connect,” Rush said.
“I see a lot of folks trying to sign and I know for myself in fact it leaves me wishing that I had more skills in sign language,” DeBellis said.
Events like these make the conversation of accessibility and inclusivity a fun one for everyone.
“Because it’s not just deaf people here, I’ve seen hearing people, I’ve seen you know so many different people that aren’t necessarily part of the deaf community but they’re able to be exposed to our community and our interpreters and sign language and we can help people understand our community a little bit better,” said Gray.