Everyone has struggles, whether it be a learning disability or a physical disability; there are people that we meet every day that have to handle their daily routine a little differently. Being deaf can be a major struggle for those looking for inclusion in a community or an education. This past summer, Springfield College made a major upgrade to one of its lesser known sectors in its Deaf Community Home.
When asking students about the Deaf Community Home, many responded simply by saying, “We didn’t know there was one” or “Is that something new?” The community home is nothing new; it was created two years ago under the supervision of many including our very own President, Mary-Beth Cooper, as a home for those from Western Massachusetts that are deaf or hard of hearing. It is a residence so that those who have a hearing disability, have an opportunity to be a part of a community like Springfield College.
This past summer the home was opened near campus on 35 Colchester Street. It will house five residents that will have access to all that Springfield College has to offer. Kellynette Gomez, a Community Involvement and Program Liaison, has the job of making the public more aware of the home, what it does, and what kind of opportunities it has for both deaf and non-deaf students. She also builds the communication between the house and its residents and the student body at Springfield.
“The individuals of this home, they do work on campus. Part of the experience is to give them the ‘college experience’, not necessarily academically, but socially, job placement, give them that environment, and make them feel like they are a part of the community as much as possible,” Gomez said with a smile.
Not only is this a great opportunity for those that are deaf or hard of hearing, but for students of the college as well. The network is being developed now to help combine parts of the Community home and different departments here on campus. Students involved in therapy-related programs will have internship opportunities and the ability to work with the deaf students in programs such as art therapy or community projects. The Occupational Therapy majors will go through the home and assess it as part of their course requirements.
Being the only Deaf Community Home in Western Massachusetts, there have been and will be struggles that Springfield College will have to work through, but the strong team involved has already made a major impact on a small community. Gomez also expressed her excitement for the home and what it has already done, and what kind of future it has. “Working here full time, I see that this has the potential to grow. It has the potential to increase in-depth studies in different departments like rehab, OT and art therapy, and we have the home for hands-on experience. We can grow this to be anything.”
With the help of the student body, publicizing this home and being more aware of what it has to offer for all of us, there is potential for this small home to become something great and have it really embody our mantra in educating spirit, mind, and body.