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'Sign and Dine' promotes inclusion of deaf community


The Cornell University Deaf Awareness Project (CUDAP) hosted the first “Sign and Dine” event April 22 to foster discussion and awareness for the deaf community. Those attending described the event, which featured performances by CUDAP’s Sign Choir and other student groups, in addition to discussions or the issues impacting the deaf community – as “eye opening” and “memorable.” Dinner guests were encouraged to sign their orders to encourage them to try their hands at American Sign Language (ASL).

CUDAP, a student-run program of the Cornell Public Service Center provides students with opportunities to learn about and raise awareness of the social justice issues facing the deaf community and works to integrate the deaf and hearing communities.

Although the organization had hosted Silent Dinners before, this event was by far the largest scale event CUDAP has undertaken, according to CUDAP co-president Jonathan Masci ’16: “We set out to make Sign and Dine more inclusive by designing menus that incorporated ASL, and by recruiting volunteer servers who could demonstrate the menu signs and other useful signs.”

The event encouraged attendees to think critically about deaf accessibility, societal attitudes and stigma toward people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and the importance of ASL as a language.

The Public Service Center’s Robinson Appel Humanitarian Award funded Sign and Dine.

Rachel Weber