ORU American Sign Language Instructor receives Richard Mullins Award

By Ally Powell ('13)

Terri YorkMany Oral Roberts University students observe adjunct professor and staff interpreter Terri York communicating using sign language to others in chapel each week. What many do not know is that York has devoted her life to serving the Deaf community.

Because of her devotion, she received the Richard Mullins Award in January at the Oklahoma Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (OKRID) annual conference in Tulsa.

"I was so surprised to receive this award," says York.

The Richard Mullins Award, a lifetime achievement honor presented by the Oklahoma Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (OKRID), is given to the recipient who demonstrates devotion to interacting with the Deaf community and strives to bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf community. A member of the Oklahoma Deaf community nominated York for this award. The nomination outlined York's efforts to educate the hearing community regarding equal access for the Deaf community at public venues and making events accessible to them.

"Many members of the Deaf community enjoy attending concerts," says York. "Some do not understand that just because they can't hear, they still enjoy the atmosphere of an event."

Recently, the ORU Mabee Center hired two interpreters for the deaf. Word spread quickly throughout the Deaf community that the Mabee Center is becoming more deaf friendly. This is just one way that York has helped bridge the gap between the Deaf and hearing communities.

"This award means that I am on the right track to educate people about a wonderful community that often times gets overlooked," York says.

York teaches a basic American Sign Language course at ORU, and she will offer an advanced course next fall.

"A lot of doors have opened here at ORU," says York. "Students are beginning to understand that that there is a Deaf culture and community."

ORU also has an American Sign Language Club on campus. The club attends deaf events, silent dinners and practices sign language.

"It is just the beginning of what I hope to see in the future for a wonderful community," says York.

York hopes to focus her calling onto educating the hearing community on the Americans with Disabilities Act that has been established to promise equal access to the Deaf community.