Elizabeth Bull is enrolled at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, which has strong programs for Interpreting majors and programs for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. She is studying to earn a double major in Interpreting for the Deaf and General Studies with a focus in Criminal Justice. Though these programs require contact hours and fieldwork, the contributions mentioned here are all volunteer services.
Early in her coursework, Bull became proficient in sign and the general college community. Her natural ability to engage with her peers, together with her sign language skills has benefited the campus community by comfortably blending two diverse groups, the hearing and the deaf.
The Northwest Deaf Club was the lead organization in the Captioning Now effort to lobby for legislation that would require movie theaters to provide closed captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. Bull was very active in this effort. Currently, she monitors the local theater web site and relays movie information to the larger deaf community. She regularly attends captioned movies, notes attendance and encourages people to gather socially afterward for pizza sponsored by the Deaf Club. She is the campus contact person with the CT Recreation Association for the Deaf for an upcoming movie and social event.
Bull makes herself available, pro bono, to make theater and other community experiences accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. In December, the Art Department hosted the opening of a 30-minute documentary, “9/11 Numbers That Echoed Through a Nation,” which was produced by students and shown at the Gilson Theater. Bull participated in the panel discussion that followed. During the Fall 2002 semester she volunteered as a peer tutor in class, Selected Topics for the Deaf, where she took notes and made herself available to assist deaf students with their homework assignments. This past January she attended a presentation on lobbying in Ashford, CT, sponsored by Self Help for the Hard of Hearing.
The Northwest Deaf Club elected Bull as Secretary and she was voted as the ‘sign to voice’ interpreter for the deaf officers. (Beginning in Spring 2003, Bull was granted fieldwork hours for the voice interpreting.) She is also a Senator for the student government and she has assisted as an interpreter on several occasions. She has made it possible for a deaf woman to serve as the Senate Secretary this year.
Bull is truly a catalyst who can successfully motivate people to take active roles. In addition, she bridges the communication hurdle between the hearing and the deaf. The number of deaf students on the Student Senate has increased since Bull has been a Senator. The number of Senators and associated friends who have attended the Deaf Club meetings and events has also increased, as well as the number of hearing students who have learned the basics of sign language either on their own or who have chosen it for elective credit. Bull proposed that the Student Senate and the Deaf Club coordinate joint social events. These two groups now cosponsor an annual semi-formal dance and are planning a trip to Boston later this spring. She is a co-chair for both events.