A more complete Alamo experience

A more complete Alamo experience

By Scott Huddleston
[email protected]

April 1, 2011

Gail and Bruce Fearing can’t hear, but they longed to see and learn about
the Alamo.

The deaf couple’s request for a sign-language interpreter may have sparked
an effort to make the Alamo more user-friendly for the deaf. The couple and
their two sons, who are not hearing-impaired, got a guided tour Thursday
from Bruce Winders, Alamo historian and curator.

Early on, Winders explained that Davy Crockett didn’t care for the 1834
portrait of him that’s on display in the state-owned shrine.

“He didn’t like the way he looked” in the painting, Winders told the couple
with help from Cassandra Ramirez, an interpreter with Alamo Colleges who
provided sign language free of charge.

But news of the famed frontiersman’s death in the 1836 battle aided the
Texas Revolution, Winders said.

“People in the United States who didn’t care about the revolution began to
care,” he said.

Other highlights included commentary on displays, including arrowheads from
the site’s mission era and a poetry book the Alamo commander, Lt. Col.
William Barret Travis, got at age 9. Winders said the book helped Travis
learn the flair for writing he used to pen his moving letters during the

The Fearings, from Wisconsin, nodded and asked questions orally. Gail
Fearing called the visit a “great experience.”

“I learned a lot about the Alamo. The interpreter service was very
helpful,” she said.

Alamo spokesman Tony Caridi said he arranged the tour after the couple asked
for assistance. The Alamo can provide the deaf and hearing-impaired a free
script from its audio tour and is studying the possibility of offering
sign-language interpretation.

Gail Fearing said few sites offer sign language.

“When we were in Houston to see NASA and the Battleship (Texas), they didn’t
provide interpreters, and I was kind of disappointed,” she said.

Other historic sites offer written tour scripts. The White House and
Kentucky Derby Museum provide sign language if requested in advance.

In recent years, President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, where Abraham
Lincoln and his family spent a lot of time from 1862 to 1864, used grants to
purchase personal amplification devices and reformat its introductory film
to include closed captioning.

San Antonio College, which has a Department of American Sign Language, would
like to help the Alamo offer the service, said Julie Razuri, director of the
college’s interpreter intern group. San Antonio’s deaf community is
estimated at roughly 8,000 to 18,000 people, she said.

Even though there might be a cost, it may be possible to give more deaf
people an Alamo experience, Razuri said.

“The important thing is that the Alamo wants to be accessible,” she said.

Source: (picture and links)


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