Deaf Civil Rights Activist to speak to William Woods University American Sign Language Students and Fulton public

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William Woods University hosts Civil Rights Movement for Deaf Citizens

William Woods University will host Civil Rights Movement for Deaf Citizens activist Jerry Covell on Thursday, April 16 from 4 to 6 PM.

Covell was one of the key figures in the 1988 protest known as Deaf President Now (DPN) at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

The DPN protest began in opposition to the March 6, 1988 hiring of Elisabeth A. Zinser, the only hearing person of the three Gallaudet presidential candidates. Covell, along with three other students, led the protest, with a list of four demands to the university’s board of trustees, including Zinser’s resignation and the selection of a Deaf person as president.

Events of the following week included students closing campus and more than 2,500 protestors marching on Capitol Hill in non-violent protests. As a result, all four of the students’ demands were met including Zinser’s resignation. It was at a celebration the following Sunday, March 13 — after the week of protests — that I. King Jordan was selected to become Gallaudet’s first Deaf president. Jordan retired in 2006.

Since DPN, Covell has served as the Executive Director of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He has taught as an adjunct professor for William Woods University bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language Deaf Culture class.

Covell has drafted, found sponsors, testified for, and successfully lobbied for numerous pieces of legislation that assures equality and accessibility for all individuals with hearing loss in Missouri and Illinois. One of the major pieces of legislation Covell worked on in Missouri was with Rep. Gracia Backer, a William Woods University alumna, regarding certification and licensure of interpreters in the state. William Woods University Interpretation Studies graduates have been consistently earning this certification for twenty years.

Currently, Covell serves as the coordinator of the Interpreter Preparation Program at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois.

The event will be held in the library auditorium. It will be interpreted into English for those who do not know American Sign Language, and is open to the public.

About William Woods University American Sign Language Program

William Woods University offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interpretation Studies in ASL-English, Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language Studies and Online Bachelor of Science in Interpretation Studies in ASL-English degree. William Woods University American Sign Language Studies and Interpretation Studies programs are distinct programs. Located in Fulton, Missouri, ASL students collaborate frequently with the Missouri School for the Deaf, and are provided a rich environment for understanding Deaf culture and trends.

About William Woods University

William Woods University is an independent university with main campus facilities in Fulton, Missouri. It has been operating continuously since the late 1800s, taking its current form as a coeducational university with undergraduate and graduate programs in 1993. Today, William Woods draws approximately 2000 undergraduate and graduate students from 45 states and approximately 20 foreign countries. William Woods has been ranked as a Top 100 Midwest University by U.S. News and World Report, and has been recognized for the quality and affordability of its online degree programs. With a full liberal arts curriculum, William Woods also offers a strong professional tradition, with nationally-ranked programs in Equestrian Studies and American Sign Language. William Woods University remains committed to serving the public good by helping students link intellectual development with the responsibilities of citizenship and professional life.

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Kathy Groves
since: 08/2009
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