LARNED — The Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility had the honor and privilege of hosting three distinguished women representing different state and national organizations, who gave presentations to both staff and inmates recently in recognition of National Deaf Awareness month.
Presenters were Sheri S. Cook, Gallaudet University Regional Center director; Rebecca Rosenthal, Kansas Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing director; and Sandra Kelly, Deaf Cultural Center director.
The women delivered very informative presentations to those present, covering the history of each of their organizations, and the cultural challenges faced by deaf people in our every-day society.
One of the most interesting aspects of the day’s presentations was that both Cook and Rosenthal are deaf and were assisted in their presentations by sign language interpreters, Mary Schmidt of Newton and Glenace Humphrey of Hutchinson.
The presentations not only helped those in attendance to understand the societal challenges faced by deaf people, but also help staff better understand ways to communicate cooperatively with inmates who might be facing hearing challenges.
An emphasis was shown explaining the communication styles, educational opportunities, social and civic events and societal labeling that deaf people have available to them and must deal with every day.
Between their presentations at the Central Unit and West Unit, the women had the opportunity to visit individually with a deaf inmate. The visit gave the inmate the opportunity to have someone understand and relay many of the frustrations and challenges he is faced with.
It also provided valuable insight and understanding for Larned Correctional staff as far as working with inmates to prepare them for a successful release.