ULM grad student’s program helps deaf community

How one ULM Grad student is helping the deaf community through the program she founded
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 7:01 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2022 at 9:56 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Tracee Albert of Vidalia started a program in 2020 designed to make learning American Sign Language (ASL) more accessible.

Growing up with deaf parents, the first language she learned was ASL.

The “Feel Seen” program is designed to advocate for underserved communities, like the deaf community.

She says the goal is to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing to feel more included.

“They’re already having to write things down for us or read your lips, try to figure out what you’re saying, how are you feeling,” Albert said. “So with us, the only way we could give back would be to learn the ABC’s or learn numbers because they’re already adapting to our world.”

Albert is dedicated to incorporating American Sign Language classes in more schools around her. Her program offers resources and lessons online along with in-person workshops for schools and universities.

Dr. Pamela Saulsberry, the Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion at ULM, says Albert is inspiring students and making a difference.

“The community saw that she is very capable of being able to do this and sees that there’s a need to be fulfilled,” Saulsberry said. “There are very few opportunities like this that exist in colleges because the expertise that’s needed often times is hard to come by.”

While being a full-time student and employee, Albert also runs the program by herself. She has shown that taking responsibility to ensure people feel included helps unify communities, even if it’s just learning the basics.

“You will see someone in the deaf community anywhere you go, and I feel like with those particular people it’s really important for us to just learn how to say ‘hi, how are you’ to help them feel inclusive in this community that we have,” Albert said. “It belongs to all of us: not just the hearing, not just the deaf and also in situations where they need help like ‘do you need help?’”

Courses online range from $30 for a basic workshop to $110 for baby sign language lessons.

The money received through workshops, donations and merchandise purchases goes towards a $500 annual scholarship the program gives out. Albert hopes this program will reach schools all over the nation.