New ASL Community Housing has opened for the 2023-2024 school year. The residential opportunity is available to Deaf, DeafBlind and hard-of-hearing students, as well as hearing students who know American Sign Language. The new housing will be located on the sixth floor of Watson Hall in the Alumni Quad.
Lauren Gobler is the coordinator of ASL Community Housing. She stated the reasons why the community came to existence.
“What we wanted to create was a highly immersive space for students to use the language more frequently and to welcome people who are Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard-of-hearing. We wanted to make it their space as it is a really key part of our [UConn] program missing right now,” said Gobler.
The new residential opportunity has been in the works preceding the COVID-19 pandemic when activities were brought to a pause, but the idea had been floating around for much longer, Gobler said.
“One professor, who is retired now, said she was trying to make this happen for 30 years. She said she couldn’t retire before it happened, so it has been talked about for a while, but now we were able to actually do it,” Gobler said.
Gobler restated that the housing was for signing individuals, but welcomed those who could not sign to reach out to her to learn more about the community through various events like weekly signing dinners.
“Just spreading the word is also really important. There are deaf and hard-of-hearing people on this campus who have never gotten in touch with the ASL program because everyone has their own story…It’s great to know there is a welcoming space for them where they can live with each other and get the accommodations they need,” Gobler said.
A Youtube video posted on the ASL Community Housing webpage featured various events like “Silent Movie Night” and “Silent Game Night” where the mentioned activity includes a visually immersive and interactive environment for those who know or are practicing ASL.
Along with Donna McNeill, previous ASL Community Housing coordinator, Gobler thanked the professors for supervising the beginning of the project and Residential Life for being open and accepting to the project.
“I definitely want to thank Donna McNeill. She graduated last year. She is my co-founder, she did all of the brunt work before COVID hit. She didn’t get to experience this but she paved the way for it,” Gobler said.
If you have any questions about ASL Community Housing, feel free to reach out to the student coordinators, Lauren and Vivian, at firstname.lastname@example.org