By PAULA CHRISTINE SCHULER
Five faculty of the American Sign Language and interpreter training department spoofed “The Dating Game” Tuesday in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center as part of Deaf Awareness Week.
The event, “Miss Manners,” featured Professor Darlene Ballard as the bachelor, and lab technician David Solis, Instructor John Cage, Professor Darin Dobson and Instructor Brian Barwise as cross-dressed bachelorettes. The event demonstrated that communication issues are not just between hearing and deaf, but also between deaf individuals.
The audience laughed loudly and frequently, sometimes offering visual applause for the contestants’ answers to dating questions.
The bachelor’s questions included “Who do you hang out with, deaf or hearing people?” “If you take me on a date, where will we go?” and “If we are in a car on a dark night, how will we communicate?” To the last question, the first bachelorette signed in English that she would turn on the light in the car.
The second one agreed.
Bachelorette No. 3 used American Sign Language to show “she” would plan ahead and design a tactile form of communication much like the blind.
Bachelorette No. 4 exclaimed with spoken word, “Can’t drive and talk at the same time! It’s too dangerous. Are you nuts?”
Another roar of laughter erupted from an understanding audience. Interpreting sophomore Dolores Gomez said, “Oh my God, it’s so much fun!” She said the faculty demonstrated the different communication styles that interpreters and the deaf experience.
The male faculty bachelorettes on stage featured English sign language, simple gestures and writing, American Sign Language and non-signing oral communication.
Body language, vocabulary and stereotypical commentary accented communication challenges for various dating situations and social decision-making.
Both audience and contestants needed interpreters because styles did not mesh, even for deaf-with-deaf communication. Different spoken voices interpreted different signers to give hearing individuals a feel for the conversation, including tone.
Occasionally, contestants ran into problems understanding each other when bickering or commenting on each other’s answers to questions from the bachelor.
The annual Miss Manners event ended with fans packing the foyer wanting a photo with the participants.
It was clear no matter which language was being used in the crowd, the faces, laughter and energy communicated excitement and appreciation for the event.
For more information, visit www.alamo.edu/sac/asl.