CLEMSON — Clemson University’s Student Disability Services department will host two events this week to raise awareness about students with disabilities.
Faculty, staff, administrators and student leaders will get firsthand experience in what it’s like to live with a disability in the Walk and Roll: Blended Immersion Experience Thursday. Now in its third year, Walk and Roll pairs students with participants for individual and group discussions about universal design principles, diversity and inclusion. Participants learn the environmental challenges students with disabilities must face on a daily basis.
Concluding the daylong event, Student Disability Services will present the first of two free screenings of “See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary” at 6 p.m. in room 118 of the Academic Success Center. The screening will feature a question-and-answer session via Skype with the film’s director, Hilari Scarl.
A second screening of the film will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 9, in McKissick Theatre at the Hendrix Student Center. The screenings are co-sponsored by Clemson’s American Sign Language club.
Winner of Best Feature Documentary at the Philadelphia Film Festival, “See What I’m Saying” follows the lives of four deaf entertainers — a comic, an actor, a drummer and a singer — as they struggle to achieve their dreams in a hearing world. Rated PG-13, the film follows them as they try to break into the world of mainstream entertainment.
The film is the first open-captioned commercial film in American history, meaning that both the sign language and the spoken interviews will be fully captioned, allowing deaf culture to be accessible to all audiences.
“Everyone comes away having had an equal experience,” said Nancy Dunne, communication service director for Student Disability Services. “That is a rare thing when you’re talking about deaf and hearing people going to the same event.”
“We selected it because it is a strong, strong film,” said disability specialist Dede Norungolo. “There are elements of universal design that are demonstrated in the film. It speaks to inclusion, diversity and if you level the playing field, then there is no reason for any individual to not be able to enjoy the career that they love, to enjoy the work they love, to enjoy the people they love.”
Organizers of the screenings hope that the film will enlighten attendees about living with a disability.
“The diagnosis or the disability isn’t what’s wrong,” Norungolo said. “The diagnosis is not the problem. More often than not, it’s the environment. Given a level playing field, all of our students are high achievers.”
Both screenings of “See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainer Documentary” are free and open to the public.