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Seneca Park Zoo announces Deaf Culture Awareness Day on September 17

  • / Updated:
  • Concetta Durso 

Seneca Park Zoo, together with RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and Rochester School for the Deaf, announce Deaf Culture Awareness Day at Seneca Park Zoo on September 17, 2022.

“We have been looking for meaningful ways to partner with NTID and the Rochester School for the Deaf to assist us in better serving our community,” said Pamela Reed Sanchez, President and CEO of the Seneca Park Zoo Society,“ Deaf Culture Awareness Day is the first of many collaborative efforts leading the Zoo to be inclusive for all, every day of the year.”

Rochester is home to the nation’s largest deaf population per capita, with more than 90,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Rochester has become a national leader for inclusivity for the deaf or hard of hearing community.

“We’re so grateful to our friends at the Seneca Park Zoo for making Deaf Awareness Day possible,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID President and RIT Vice President and Dean. “This is an opportunity for the Rochester community to experience the richness of Deaf culture, as well as providing accessibility and inclusivity to the Deaf community and our NTID students. I’m also very proud of our interpreting students who will serve to facilitate communication on September 17. It will be a great day!”

During Deaf Culture Awareness Day all Zoo programming will be interpreted. The event coincides with the Zoo’s Cold Asia Snow Leopard and Red Panda weekend, with four opportunities Saturday, September 17th for deaf and hard of hearing guests to enjoy fully interpreted animal experiences and keeper chats. The interpreting is being provided pro bono by students from RIT/NTID’s American Sign Language-English Interpretation major.

Zoo Docents and Ambassadors will be paired with interpreters, allowing guests to fully engage with Zoo experts regarding animal species, facts, and way finding. ASL-interpreted storytelling featuring animal-related books will take place at the Conservation Stage.

The Zoo has worked with the Rochester School for the Deaf on custom animal identification signage featuring lenticular images of RSD students signing animal names.

“This day is a great start to International Week of Deaf People with the theme, ‘Building Inclusive Communities for All,” said Antony McLetchie, Superintendent/CEO, Rochester School for the Deaf. “We are pleased to be partnering with the Seneca Park Zoo and NTID to celebrate and embrace American Sign Language (ASL)and Deaf culture and create an opportunity for our students, their families, and the Rochester Deaf community to come together at the zoo. Representation matters, and our students have been hard at work creating ASL signage and video for some of the zoo’s animals.”

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Deaf Culture Awareness Day at Seneca Park Zoo will be held rain or shine. Tickets can be purchased online or at the admissions booth.