PA theater expanding to deaf, hard of hearing communities

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CANNONSBURG, WASHINGTON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A new project to expand theatrical experiences to those who are deaf or hard of hearing is being unveiled in Washington County Pennsylvania.

Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), Deputy Secretary for Business Finance and Workforce Development Carol Kilko and Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) Executive Director Melissa Hawkins announced that Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) is providing $16,500 to Little Lake Theatre Company and Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD) to create “Journey into Theater with Hands and Voices.”

The purpose of this program is to create a partnership with the deaf community so they too can enjoy live theatrical performances. It is also said that this will help create jobs in the theater industry for those who are deaf or hard of hearing in the future.

“As I am deaf myself, I recognize that there are significant challenges to advocating for yourself and having support from someone who recognizes these barriers goes a long way. We are thrilled to be here for the launch of this first-of-its-kind partnership in Pennsylvania,” said Director Hawkins.

At the Little Lake Theater, there will be a 10-month production of “Captain Luie, Jr.” that will utilize both American Sign Language and spoken English.

“We are thrilled about this new collaboration between the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and the Little Lake Theater. Our partnership is incredibly valuable not only for the new opportunities it will offer to Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in the performing arts but also for the increased awareness it will bring to Deaf culture and American Sign Language in our region,” said Dr. Steve Farmer, WPSD’s CEO.

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