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University of Scranton, deaf school students communicate, bond at summer camp

University of Scranton graduate student Brady Rose asked Jack Spencer a question: “What is the sign of the elephant?”

The 4-year-old, a student at Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Childrenbrought his hand forward, imitating the animal’s proboscis.

“Very nice,” Rose said.

University of Scranton students are spending eight weeks this summer at the school for deaf students in Lackawanna County, running a program called “Speech and Language Adventures.” The university students, part of the first cohort of the new master’s program in speech therapysay the experience is about communication.

Sarah Hofius Hall

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WVIA news

Clinical educator Christine Rossi works with Maddie Areson, 4, at the Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.

Students at the school for the deaf have different levels of hearing ability. Some students are verbal, some use American Sign Language, and some use an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device. Many times students use a combination of these.

“It’s definitely very interesting to communicate with everyone,” said Destiny Carpitella, a college student from Brooklyn. “With all modes of communication, we need to understand what our students want and need in each moment.”

Before starting the program this summer, the university students participated in an eight-week American Sign Language bootcamp hosted by a school for teachers of the deaf.

After a full year of coursework, this serves as the first clinical experience for students in the new graduate program. Students will also have clinical experiences during the fall and spring semesters.

“We hope they gain confidence in being able to work in the speech therapy field, learning opportunities about how to collaborate and consult,” said Tara Carito, the university’s clinical education coordinator for the program.

At the South Abington Township school this week, children participated in individual sessions and small language groups. They worked on sign language and verbal skills and made time for dancing and crafts.

The university students are paired with the same children from the school for the deaf throughout the day.

“You follow them all day and see how they work with other kids,” said university student Gia Maayan. “I see what the child needs and then make a combination that works best for them… it’s very, very cool.”

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