When deaf people watch the news, they can use closed captioning to see what's being said. Real-life doesn't have captioning. Art hanging on a wall may speak to anyone who sees it, but figuratively, not literally. That's why a field trip to the Frost Art Museum at FIU was such a valuable experience for not just deaf kids, but the hearing-abled students on the trip as well.
"We really want to be a museum for everyone," said Miriam Machado, the Frost Museum's Curator of Education.
The field trip was an interesting exercise in bonding between high school kids who are learning sign language, just because they want to, and their peers who use sign language because they can't speak vocally.
The trip was organized by Braddock High School teacher John Paul Jebian, who is deaf and teaches sign language classes.
"It's great for the deaf students to have interpreters so that way they can see that the hearing students can have the same experience as them," Jebian said.
Jebian founded WavingHands.org, a non-profit group which helps deaf people overcome society's boundaries. He was gratified to see his students from Braddock using their sign language skills to talk to the deaf kids from South Dade Senior High School, as they strolled through the museum's exhibits. This field trip was Jebian's idea.
"They're learning about the deaf culture, their language and they're able to communicate with the community which is the key," Jebian said, through a sign language interpreter.
Lisa Christie is deaf, and teaches a variety of subjects to deaf students at South Dade High.
"My students told me they're learning an enormous amount about all this variety of art and this new exposure they're getting, they're loving it," Christie said, through a sign language interpreter, about the reactions she witnessed at the museum.
Art speaks to everyone, and its message is always subject to interpretation, from everyone, regardless of hearing ability or anything else. That may be the takeaway from the outing to the museum.
"I think it's fantastic, I think it's great to be able to bridge all the gaps between us as humans and as individuals," Machado said.