Deaf woman helps ASL community
By Kayla A. Swenson
Ruth Macari watched her husband’s lips as he asked her what time the neighbors would be over. She signed back in American Sign Language, 6:00.
While college enrollment in ASL courses is on the rise Macari helps serve her deaf community by leading her Mormon ASL woman’s relief society and often interpreting for the deaf.
Although Macari suffers from profound hearing loss she tries to bridge the gap between the hearing and the deaf through her translating efforts.
“Before I could sign, I missed so much, and felt like "half of a person," Macari said.
In her past Macari has worked at a California school for the deaf and is currently tutoring ASL classes at Utah State University. She never gets tired of what she does, calling ASL, “a service language.”
When Macari was eight years old she got in a car crash that resulted in immediate hearing loss. Soon after she learned how to lip-read because she wasn’t taught ASL in her school.
“In my deaf and hard of hearing school they really didn’t want hard of hearing kids signing,” she said. “They were afraid we would stop talking.”
Because of school restrictions Macari didn’t learn ASL until she was fifteen when she attended a summer camp for deaf and hard of hearing kids.
“I understand communication in ASL much more clearly, than when I was lip-reading and sort-of-maybe-hearing what was going on around me,” she said.
“I felt like a whole person again,” Macari said.
A few years after learning ASL Macari and her husband Thomas Macari moved to California where she started working at DCARA a deaf, counseling, advocacy and referral agency.
That is when Ruth Macari started interpreting for deaf people.
“How a deaf person interprets for the deaf is an interesting story,” said Thomas Macari.
He then explained to me how his wife would sometimes find herself in interviews helping deaf people find jobs with hearing people.
“It not easy,” said Ruth Macari. “If the circumstances were right and things were quiet I could get enough from the hearing person to tell the deaf person what was being said.”
Macari is happy that more and more students are making efforts to learn ASL.
“Learning the language of the deaf is potentially a service to us,” she said.
“Hearing people generally have a choice about learning a foreign language, but for the deaf, sign language is the only language that works!”
Next year Macari will continue helping the deaf community progress as she tutors students learning ASL and helps strengthen her church family through leadership roles.