Centre College’s Gary Crase, lab and instrument technician, was recently elected to the Board of Kentucky Association of the Deaf (KAD) during their 47th Biennial Conference.
KAD was founded in 1891 by alumni of the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD), located in Danville. Their mission is to advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing in Kentucky by promoting equality, accessibility and quality of life through employment services, education and welfare. KAD is an affiliate member of the National Association of the Deaf.
“I have been active in other deaf organizations, such as Kentucky Assisting Deaf Adult to Participate Totally (KyADAPT), Kentucky School for the Deaf Charitable Foundation Inc. (KSDCF) and Jacobs Hall Museum Committee (JHMC),” Crase said. “These are organizations that advocate for independent living for deaf adults with multiple disabilities, raise money for KSD students and deaf students across Kentucky, and raise funding and maintain Jacobs Hall. Becoming a board member for KAD allows me to continue to advocate for positive and measurable change for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Kentucky.”
Crase’s personal experience with the deaf comes from his father’s side of the family, where there have been many incidences of “late deafness,” which is becoming deaf after acquiring language.
“My father, sister, grandmother, uncle and several cousins became deaf late,” he said. “I identify myself as hard of hearing and not deaf. Because of genetics, I continue to lose my hearing but can use a phone with amplification. Interpreters help clarify the message of the speaker for me, especially in large settings or crowded situations. I rely a lot on speech reading to assist me in day-to-day communications.”
Crase said his father and grandmother never learned sign language or attended KSD. Growing up, the school district he attended never mentioned KSD to his family, and he was unaware of the school for the deaf until he moved to Danville.
“I decided early on to try to learn sign language because of communication needs,” he explained. “In the 80s, I first learned Signed English, and after I started to work for Centre, I volunteered at KSD for three years and started to learn ASL. It is important to me that deaf have equal access, because I share in that common need.”
For the last 10 years, Crase has contributed to Centre’s campus by teaching American Sign Language (ASL) classes to students, faculty and staff.
“In those classes, I taught deaf culture, had deaf socials and invited deaf from the local community to come visit class,” he added. “Exposing students today to the needs of the deaf will hopefully influence them when they become professionals and are exposed to deaf individuals in the future.”
When Crase first came to Centre, it was uncommon to provide ASL interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing employees. It was only within the last few years that the practice was put into place. Crase continues to advocate for access for deaf and hard of hearing employees of Centre and Sodexo.
by Kerry Steinhofer
October 29, 2019
Header image: Gary Crase (back left) stands with the newly appointed members of the Board of Kentucky Association of the Deaf.