Amanda Loder / NHPR

Nine UNH-Manchester students are graduating this year with degrees in American Sign Language Interpretation.  The college hosts one of just 13 accredited programs in the country.  And given the high demand for interpreters, these newly-minted grads will likely find secure employment. 

But they probably won’t be jumping in right after graduation.

Wikimedia Commons

Imagine trying to learn astrophysics without using the word “light-year”. Or study biology without being able to say “photosynthesis”.  That’s the dilemma facing deaf students hoping to pursue careers in the sciences—where new terminology is being coined and communicated on a daily basis. 

There was a time when a child born deaf had few choices. For more than a century, the only option for parents was to send their son or daughter away to a boarding school for the deaf. There, the children and the schools thrived in the shadows, embracing a distinct culture of silent communication.

Recent advances in medicine and technology are now reshaping what it means to be deaf in America. Children who could never hear a sound are now adults who can hear everything. That's having a dramatic impact on the nation's historic deaf schools as well as the lives of people.