University of Rochester

EVENT: Programs Explore Issues for Deaf Community

May 3, 2006

An international leader in the deaf community and a renowned American Sign Language performer are making separate presentations in Rochester this month.

Markku Jokinen, president of the World Federation of the Deaf, will discuss "Charting Globalization of the Deaf Community" at 3 p.m. Monday, May 15, in Room G-9525, the Class of 1962 Auditorium in the University of Rochester Medical Center. The program will be presented in American Sign Language and International Sign Language and will also be voice interpreted. The event is free and open to the public.

Born into a deaf family and deaf from birth, Jokinen teaches and does research at the university level. He is currently project coordinator for the teacher training program for Finnish Sign Language users at the University of Jyväskylä. Jokinen was elected to the Finnish Association of the Deaf in 1981, when he was 22 years old, and has been a frequent speaker at international conferences.

The World Federation of the Deaf, founded in 1951 in Rome, is an international organization representing deaf people in 123 member countries. It is recognized by the UN as the official representative for deaf people in policy formation.

In addition, Samuel J. Supalla, an educator, filmmaker, and performer of ASL storytelling, will present "Deaf to Deaf" at 8 p.m. Friday, May 12, in Webb Auditorium at Rochester Institute of Technology. The multi-media performance will be voice-interpreted and explores Supalla's development of his own identity and his life experiences with both deaf and hearing people. An associate professor in the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology at the University of Arizona, Supalla teaches and conducts research focusing on the linguistic needs of deaf children. He has developed a system of symbols to spell out American Sign Language to teach deaf children the concept of an alphabet and helped found the Laurent Clerc Elementary School in Tucson, a charter school for both deaf and hearing children. A $5 donation at the door will benefit the World Federation of the Deaf.

The events are co-sponsored by the American Sign Language program at the University of Rochester. More information is available online at or by calling (585) 273-5165 (Voice/TTY).