Raising awareness to a community of people who are deaf or hard of hearing is what Saturday’s American Sign Language potluck aimed to achieve.
Danielle Revoir is a mother of a daughter who is deaf and she helps set up the event, held at Hitchcock Park. Revoir said the potluck has been met with growing support over the years, and she enjoys raising awareness to the respective community of people.
“We’re always trying to get more people open to sign language, because it’s lacking in the community,” Revoir said while setting up trays of snacks. “When we started out we had very little amount of people attend, but now we have a stronger showing of support.”
Mark Koterwski, senior community support specialist with the South Dakota Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), joined the roughly 20 attendees at the ASL potluck and led a handful of fun filled group activities.
Koterwski is deaf and spoke to The Daily Republic through an interpreter at the event. He said exposing more communities to people who are hard of hearing is one of the goals the state’s CSD organization aims to accomplish.
The activities included all of the attendees taking part in sign language games that welcomed plenty of laughs and smiles from the participants.
Tanya Kitto, a local sign language advocate and interpreter, regularly assists in the potluck organized through the CSD and enjoys seeing the interaction between adults and youth who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“It’s a time where deaf youth can meet with deaf or hard of hearing adults,” Kitto said. “It’s important for the kids to interact with the adults, because it helps them see they’re not alone.”
While Kitto and Revoir aren’t deaf or hard of hearing, they have spent ample time learning sign language to provide more inclusiveness to the community.
Kitto said the lack of community interest in learning sign language is a barrier that sometimes hampers hard of hearing and deaf people moving to Mitchell.
“It’s hard for some people who are hard of hearing establish roots in a community that doesn’t have an openness to understanding sign language,” Kitto said. “We have seen the support grow a little bit, but it’s still lacking from where it should be.”