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At a glance: United States of America

Deaf students take the stage and look to the future

They love acting, computers and technology. They are no different than anyone else, but they are made to feel different. Children at the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York City talk about their hopes and dreams.


By Nerina Penzhorn

Students at a 150-year-old school for the deaf in New York City express their creativity and their hopes and dreams. 
QUEENS, New York, United States of America, 9 July 2013 – It’s an exciting morning at the Lexington School for the Deaf in East Elmhurst, a residential neighbourhood in New York City. Evans, Chen and Chelsea are rehearsing a play in the school’s theatre. Active members of the school’s drama club, they are especially proud of this production, Double Trouble, because student club members wrote the play themselves.

“I love acting,” says 19-year-old Chen, “because I get to express myself in different ways.”

© UNICEF Video
Evans, 20, rehearses a play in the theatre at the Lexington School for the Deaf, which opened in 1864.

Acting is also an opportunity for students to get creative in their first language, American Sign Language (ASL).

“ASL is beautiful,” says Chelsea, also 19. “It's cool! I couldn’t live without ASL in my life.”

Evans, 20 years old and a senior at the school, offers a few tips on what it takes to shine on stage. “Facial expressions have to be very pronounced,” he says. “You have to really look confident on stage.”

Chelsea, Chen and Evans clearly love acting, but theatre is only one of the things they are passionate about.

Evans fell in love with technology and computers at an early age and hopes to work in film, animation or design once he graduates from university. Chen likes mathematics and wants to become a teacher, accountant or physicist one day. Chelsea can see herself being an actress or a lawyer. What she is certain about is that she wants to go back to her birth country, Trinidad, to help improve educational opportunities for deaf children.

© UNICEF Video
Chen, 19, wishes there were better communication and understanding between deaf people and people who can hear.

Lexington School for the Deaf opened in 1864 and is the largest school for the deaf in New York State, educating deaf children from infancy up to age 21. Lexington students come from across the five boroughs of New York City, and a number of students also have other disabilities, including mobility and mental impairment. The school prepares students to continue on to college, vocational education, job training or a placement that will help them live a responsible, productive life.

For Chelsea, attending the school has been life changing.

“Once I met others like me, I understood myself better,” she says. “I’m not alone in my own world anymore.”



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