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Press Release for Monday, May 4, 2015

University of North Florida Hosts First Deaf Spark Event

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

Inspired by Jacksonville’s One Spark festival, the first Deaf Spark event is coming to the University of North Florida campus Saturday, May 16, in an all-day series of events from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Dedicated to the preservation, education and appreciation of American Sign Language (ASL) and to the rich culture of Northeast Florida’s deaf community, Deaf Spark will feature artists, filmmakers, storytellers and performers in a day of family fun and activities for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families. The event is co-sponsored by UNF’s ASL/English Interpreting Program, the Jacksonville Deaf Club and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.

“We strongly believe UNF’s program has a responsibility to the Deaf community, given the amount of volunteer hours the community contributes to UNF’s interpreting students as they learn the intricate skill of interpreting,” said Dr. Sherry Shaw, professor and program director of the ASL/English Interpreting Program at UNF. “We instill in our students that giving back to the community isn’t an option; it’s an ethical responsibility, not only during their time at UNF, but into their professional life upon graduation.”

Deaf Spark kicks off with a 5K walk sponsored by the Florida Black Deaf Advocates at 8 a.m. in Parking Lot 100, next to Parking Services, Building 52, located near the main I-295 campus entrance. Registration begins at 7:15 am, and a $20 donation is welcomed.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be several activities, including an Eyes Alive! Film Camp, parent workshops, storytelling and an expo. The Eyes Alive! Film Camp is for deaf and hard of hearing children ages 12 to 18 who have an interest in film/media or performance arts. Campers report to Building 57, Tom and Betty Pittway Hall, at 10 a.m. and must be picked up at 4 p.m. Campers need to bring a bag lunch, beverages and snacks. Campers will have access to bottled water. Advanced registration for the camp is required by Friday, May 10, by e-mailing

Deaf storytellers will provide enriching experiences for children 3 to 11, while sessions for parents will be provided on various topics, including basic American Sign Language skills, roundtable discussions, vocational rehabilitation resources and a grant-funded workshop by Deaf Tec. Throughout the day, there will also be a Community Expo on Osprey Plaza at the Student Union, Building 58, featuring deaf artists, a silent auction and organizational vendors.

The public is invited to attend the ASL Spark Show from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Andrew A. Robinson, Jr. Theater, Building 14A. The show will feature films and performances by Eyes Alive! Film Camp participants and improvisation performances by local deaf comedians. This event is free of charge; however, donations are welcomed. All proceeds will benefit the Jacksonville Deaf Club.

All Deaf Spark activities will be conducted in American Sign Language, and UNF’s graduate and undergraduate interpreting students will provide interpreting services under the supervision of faculty members who are nationally certified interpreters. Parents with deaf children are encouraged to register in advance through the event’s Facebook page at For more information, e-mail or contact Dr. Sherry Shaw at (904) 620-2930.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.