Coffee shop overflows with community

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Participants of Deaf Chat congregate at Starbucks in the Quarry Sept. 28  Photo by Paula Christine Schuler

Participants of Deaf Chat congregate at Starbucks in the Quarry Sept. 28 Photo by Paula Christine Schuler

Deaf Chat participants enjoy Starbucks while practicing sign language skills.  Photo by Paula Christine Schuler

Deaf Chat participants enjoy Starbucks while practicing sign language skills. Photo by Paula Christine Schuler

Deaf chat night spills onto the sidewalk outside Starbucks in the Quarry.

By PAULA CHRISTINE SCHULER

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

At least 50 people of all ages disregarded heavy rains Sept. 28 to attend Deaf Chat at Starbucks in the Quarry.

The crowd welcomed anyone who happened to want to join in a conversation.

To the average passerby, it would seem someone was throwing a party in the coffee shop.

All the tables inside were  occupied. The steady line kept the barristas busy. The sidewalks outside were full.

Throughout, the vibe was animated and engaged.

Children of deaf adults, known as CODAs, mingled with students of American Sign Language from Judson High School and this college.

Deaf parents brought toddlers and laughed with friends, including interpreters, students, work colleagues and family.

Some participants can hear, some cannot. Some were bilingual in English and American Sign Language, while others were just learning.

The bilingual participants were happy to help novices and interpret so the “single-lingual” could join the conversation.

American Sign Language sophomore Chelsea Long said, “The deaf community has become my community,” while she mingled with an interpreter, father and his toddler daughter.

She laughed watching the toddler make animal signs for a friend.

Those gathered that night and those who couldn’t attend have another opportunity on the horizon for community exchange.

The Deaf Festival is described as a huge reunion and opportunity for games, friendship, good food and learning about vendors who specialize in the deaf community.

The annual event has been going on as long as anyone at the chat could remember.

The festival is 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Nov. 3 in Comanche Park No. 2 at 2600 Rigsby Ave.

Admission is $2, but parking is free and the event is open to the public.

“Miss Manners,” a panel of deaf “ladies” will present their insights into proper ways to express good manners within the deaf community.

The panel is scheduled 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 16 in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center.

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