Augustana Deaf Awareness Organization getting back to its ‘Roots’

Burst of Sign

Burst of Sign’s ‘Roots’ aims to convey community


For 90 minutes, the Augustana Deaf Awareness Organization will give hearing people a glimpse of what being silence sounds like, as its members present their 2017 Burst of Sign show Friday and Saturday.

As a show performed entirely in American Sign Language with speaking interpreters on the side, the Burst of Sign has been an annual event since the 1980s. Its creation coincided with the formation of the Deaf Awareness Organization as a whole.

Junior Lauren Mills,  co-president of the organization, said Deaf Awareness tries to do one “big event” each month.

This year, the theme is “deaf roots,” which Mills defined as pride in culture, a history of deafness and an overview of technology’s place in the deaf experience.

“Each of these ‘roots’ come together to support the trunk of the tree, meaning the deaf people and their community, through the daily oppression they face,” said senior Melanie Best, who has performed in Burst of Sign since her freshman year.

The show will attempt to show deaf roots through music, poetry, skits and stories. Upcoming acts this year include the signing of “Rise” by Katy Perry and “Elastic Heart” by Sia. This year’s skits will focus on how recent inventions shaped opportunities for people who are deaf.

All proceeds from the show are donated to a deaf-friendly organization. This year the donations will go to the Midwest Conference on Deaf Education.

Deaf Awareness hopes the show will entertain people who are deaf by giving them another mainstream outlet while also providing an alternate angle for people who can hear.

“Deaf Awareness tries to bring everyone together to educate those who are unfamiliar with deafness and what that means,” said senior Lydia Bruns, co-president of Deaf Awareness. “Burst of Sign can and has accomplished this mission by producing a show entirely in ASL, and it gives people perspective on what it could be like for a deaf individual.”

Mills said the show is a learning experience not only for audience members but also participants. By combining creativity with education, Mills believes Burst of Sign allows her to flex her signing in ways classes sometimes can not.

Mills and other performers plan on turning Burst of Sign into an event catering to the entire university as opposed to only sign language interpreting majors.

“I would like to see more people get involved: majors, minors and non-majors,” Best said. “The more people involved, the more types of art forms we can do. More people involved means more ideas being thrown around, thought out and put into action.”

The show begins at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Kresge Recital Hall. Admission is free for all Augustana students and children and $5 for adults.


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