‘Deafness Not A Barrier, Instead An Opportunity’ For Student Newscasters

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — WPSD anchors don’t hear the music that opens their newscast. They take visual cues from the floor manager. WPSD stands for Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.

“Hi, I’m Fauntaye. Today is Wednesday.”

“Hello. I’m Alexandra. Thanks for watching.”

The co-anchors speak in sign language, which is interpreted aloud by fellow student Ryane, in an audio booth.

“We should see sunshine today,” says weatherman Justin, in front of a video map. “Looking forward to a high of 55, low of 36 tonight.

Media instructor Brian Stavinsky offers advice and encouragement.

“Deafness is not really a barrier here,” he says. “It’s an opportunity.”

Of course, television is a visual medium. And that’s especially true at WPSD. Anchors, floor director, control room, everyone has to keep their eyes open and on what they’re doing at all times.

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“I’ve worked in a number of different positions here, and I enjoy it,” says anchor Fauntaye.

“People think it’s hard because we’re deaf,” adds co-anchor Alexandra. “But we really learn a lot more. It improves our signing, our access to language. And I’ve always been interested in the news.”

Christian directs the news from the control room, all in sign language.

“It’s not like people tell me I can’t do this, or this,” he says. “I can do anything. I have to prove to them that I can do it.”

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