How students volunteered at the Hearing Speech + Deaf Center

CINCINNATI — The pandemic has presented a myriad of problems for many people, but University of Cincinnati student volunteers at the Hearing Speech + Deaf Center in Greater Cincinnati have found a way to make it work.

Jordan Klemt is a sophomore who has known for years that she wants to become a speech-language pathologist. Jayse Card is a freshman who learned American Sign Language in high school and fell in love with it.

Klemt and Card are two of 18 UC students who have volunteered at the Hearing Speech + Deaf Center in Greater Cincinnati. Usually, students meet with center staff members and follow them around to get hands-on experience in the field, but the pandemic has stopped that.

“I knew there would be fewer opportunities to shadow and volunteer,” Card said.

“It’s been extremely difficult,” said Steve Wesselkamper, director of development and marketing at the center. “First of all, how do you stage this kind of volunteering experience in a virtual world?

Students have started using their social media and internet skills to meet people through services like Zoom.

“It made me believe in creativity and innovation,” Wesselkamper said. “I can’t wait to get it back in a year.”

The center has also allowed volunteer students to come to the center for short visits, which last between 10 and 15 minutes. Even that short amount of time made all the difference.

“Finally, being able to come in and witness things is so exciting,” Klemt said. “It’s really exciting to finally get back into the rhythm of everything… It’s not the same on Zoom.”

Michael A. May