Professor Corrine Occhino Awarded Grant to Promote ASL Among Deaf Refugees

Corrine Occhino, an assistant professor with a dual appointment in the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded an SU Engaged Humanities Mini-grant for a project to serve Deaf refugees learning American Sign Language (ASL).

Corrine Occhino headshotOffered by the College of Arts and Sciences, Engaged Communities Mini- and Sustaining Grants encourage Syracuse University faculty to develop publicly engaged projects in collaboration with University staff and students and community partners and to co-create public goods based on community assets, needs, and interests. Awardees are public scholars who apply their knowledge and skills to serve the public; develop relationships of trust and reciprocity with community partners; apply scholarship to affect social change and pursue justice; and demonstrate that expertise is not exclusive to academia.

Occhino will work with Deaf New Americans Advocacy Inc. co-founders Monu Chhetri and Tamla Htoo to identify and provide services to the Deaf New American community. “My partnership with this Liverpool, NY-based non-profit will develop bilingual ASL-English materials for Deaf refugees settling in Syracuse and bring awareness of their existence and needs to the larger Syracuse University and Central New York community,” says Occhino. “Additionally, I will work with Professor Brice Nordquist to set up tutoring programs for the hearing children of Deaf refugees, to get the support they need as second language learners of English.”

Occhino will participate in a national conference, hosted by Deaf New Americans, called “Empowering Deaf New Americans,” which will be held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Syracuse Destiny USA from July 28 to 30, 2022. The conference will be an opportunity for Deaf leaders and hearing allies to learn about the lived experiences of Deaf New Americans and to discuss strategies for creating self-sufficiency among this community, while respecting their cultures and traditions.

Program Coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences ASL and Deaf Studies Program, Occhino teaches courses on signed languages and linguistics, Deaf cultures, sociolinguistics, and psycholinguistics. Her research focuses on how the embodied linguistic experiences of signers influence the organization and processing of signed languages.

“I am thankful for the support of the College of Arts and Sciences and excited to engage with this underserved community,” adds Occhino.