Our Journey to Making Teatown Deaf-Friendly
Imagine walking into your local nature center and not being able to understand what is being presented on the screens in front of you. You’re standing in a facility meant to educate the public, yet you cannot access the information being given to you. Then, someone walks over and turns on the closed captions and in an instant, you can enjoy the same experience as everyone else.
That’s where I come in. My name is Meaghan Walsh and I am a student at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. I have been studying American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture for three years. My interest in ASL began when I enrolled in an online class in high school. From there, I fell in love with the language and started to learn all that I could about ASL and Deaf culture. I continued studying ASL in college, and helped grow my sign language skills by going to Deaf community events in D.C.
Cut to the end of my freshman year at GW. I applied to volunteer at Teatown to get experience in the field of sustainability and give back to my community. I expected that I would answer phones, take care of campers, and maintain trails. But, to my delight, I was asked to create a video series in ASL to help make Teatown more inclusive.
Walking into my first meeting, I noticed that none of the videos in the nature center were captioned. So I suggested that we should caption the videos we make to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing individuals can access the valuable lessons we teach here at Teatown. That’s why, starting this summer, Teatown will be captioning videos both displayed in the nature center and uploaded to our social media. Going forward, we encourage you to think about the ways you can help make the spaces you occupy more deaf friendly.
To watch our video series, click here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TeatownNature
Special thanks to George Washington University professor Michael O’Donnell. Without his help we would not have been able to produce these videos.
August 10 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Take part in a citizen science project and enjoy a mid-summer day as the tide goes out! Join educators from Teatown and artists from Strawtown Art and Garden Studios as we seine for fish and other creatures and share the results with other sites taking part in the Fish Count. With Strawtown artists, create a memorable rendering of your experience to take home. For everyone.