Talk with your hands at silent lunch

May 7, 2007 Steve Ahlborn, Culture Writer, The Arbiter

Many people are not aware of the presence of the deaf community. Every Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. there is a silent lunch hosted by the Hand Talk Club, a Student Organization of Boise State University, which is not exclusive to any particular group of people.

The group meets to raise awareness of the deaf community in the Treasure Valley.

At times, society tries to delineate groups of people by categorizing them. In reference to the deaf community, those categories have been set as people of hearing, people with hearing impairments and people who are deaf.

According to the book, "For Hearing People Only," by Matthew Moore and Linda Levitan, there are those who are culturally deaf ("big D") and those who are deaf ("little d").

Those who are deaf ("big D") have learned to embrace their deafness and use American Sign Language (ASL). Being deaf ("big D") is an attitude, unlike the medical condition ("little d").

The silent lunch, held by the Hand Talk Club, is an important aspect of communication for the deaf community because sometimes it is the only exposure the deaf have each week to converse with others that really understand the culture of being deaf.

The student organization Hand Talk started approximately three years ago but did not last long due to social limitations of being a part of events such as the silent lunch. Visitors were classified and divided into strongly-defined groups of the hearing, hearing impaired and the deaf.

President of the Hand Talk Club Sherry Matthews united the group by re-organizing it to ensure that everyone gets included in the events. Division no longer exists among the participants.

Recently, Boise State University took strides to bring together the culture of the deaf and the world of people who have the ability to hear.

In one of the hallways of the Student Union Building is a video monitor that sits on a small table in an alcove across from the front office of the Student Activities Department.

On the side of the video monitor is the name "Sorenson," which refers to Sorenson Communications.

This communications company uses technology to allow people of the deaf Community the opportunity to contact others they would normally not be able to hear over the telephone.

This video technology is free to users. It offers a way for a deaf person to communicate through an interpreter to the world at large.

For more information on the silent lunch and the Hand Talk Club, please visit

From The ArbiterOnline. Reprinted with permission. Back to Article List