Deaf instructor wants to change the world one student at a time

3/1/2007 | By: Staff Report  |

Edina Jambor is not your typical University instructor. She is a social psychology Ph.D. candidate who has experienced what life is like with and without a disability. Jambor is the only deaf Ph.D. candidate at the university and is among one of the few deaf Ph.D. candidates and instructors nationwide.

"Edina's deafness provides the opportunity for many teachable moments for students needing to learn how to communicate with someone who uses an interpreter for the deaf," co-teacher and interpreter Mary Anne Christensen said. "Students will also have the opportunity to learn about deaf culture along the way."

The goal of the class is to teach students about a variety of disability issues, not just deafness, while encouraging them to do the right thing and think about people with disabilities in a new way.

"This is not your typical read-a-chapter and take-a-test course," Jambor said. "I want students to really understand what the situation is like, leading by what they've learned, then sharing their experience with their classmates." With more than 40 students enrolled in the class, Jambor looks to engage students in hands-on activities by:

  • simulating several different disabilities at the individual level
  • evaluating laws that protect people with disabilities
  • inviting guest speakers with disabilities into class to shed additional light on their personal experiences

"It's a huge honor for me to teach this class," Jambor said. "It is a challenge, but I know the rewards will be great. I want to change the world one student at a time."

Jambor lost her hearing at age of 15 in an automobile accident. She has taught American Sign Language classes at the University for more than five years. She hopes to graduate with a degree in social psychology in December, 2007.

She is also a long-time volunteer and employee of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resource Advocacy Center in Carson City where she works to create bridges between deaf and hearing individuals.

"What we want to do is plant a seed for a shift in how able-bodied individuals perceive people with disabilities" Christensen said.

Mary Anne Christensen is the assistant director of the Disability Resource Center at the University. She has been an interpreter for the deaf for more than 20 years and has taught American Sign Language classes for 15 years.

Through education, research, and community outreach, the College of Health and Human Sciences is dedicated to the development of tomorrow's leaders who will help build a healthy Nevada through the prevention and resolution of the issues that challenge people's everyday lives.


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