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A Maverick who is deaf advocates for accessibility

UTA’s first deaf student mentor aims to improve access to higher education

Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 • Neph Rivera : contact

Photo of Lei-Sea Sky UTA student and deaf student mentor" _languageinserted="true

The University of Texas of Arlington, which is launching a new minor in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, has appointed the University’s first student mentor who is deaf.

Lei-Sea Sky, who is pursuing majors in both social work and political science, is supporting students looking to achieve their higher education goals.

"As a deaf individual, I've faced unique challenges, and that's given me a profound understanding of the barriers deaf and hard-of-hearing students encounter in higher education," Sky said. "It's not just about mentorship. I want to advocate for the accessibility that the Deaf community rightfully deserves."

Sky collaborates with departments and assembles teams of faculty and staff to enhance accessibility in education for students who are deaf. She stands out for her dedication both to academic pursuits and campus life and for her commitment to breaking down barriers for those who rely on sign language and visual communication, social work Adjunct Assistant Professor Antwan C. Williams said.

“Lei-Sea is an excellent student who cares about the world around her,” Williams said. “She has been instrumental in helping UTA strengthen its support services program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. UTA already has an excellent reputation for its program, and Lei-Sea working with the staff will help make it even better.”

Sky said her goal is to help ensure that other students who are deaf have equal access to UTA’s boundless opportunities.

"I am not only a trailblazer, but a symbol of progress at UTA, and my appointment as the first deaf student mentor is a historic milestone in the realm of equal access," Sky said.

UTA’s new minor, housed in the Department of Modern Languages, will focus on ASL receptive and expressive language skills and will offer advanced classes in theory related to the ASL language, Deaf culture and ASL linguistics. This new minor will be the first of its kind in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Lisalee D. Egbert, assistant professor of modern languages who is also deaf, will spearhead the new minor. Egbert and a group of passionate students also created the first ASL Club on the UTA campus last year.

- Written by Jaelon Jackson, School of Social Work