March 27, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

American Sign Language Performer Coming to VSU April 3

VALDOSTA — Windell “Wink” Smith Jr. will perform his American Sign Language comedy show from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 3, in Valdosta State University’s Student Union Theater.

Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Tickets are free for VSU students with valid identification and $10 for all others.

The show will be presented in American Sign Language. Interpreters will be available for those who are not fluent in the language.

"In his comedy show, Wink recounts his experiences growing up in a Deaf home and how much his parents taught him about the beauty and value of American Sign Language and Deaf culture,” said Christia Williams, an instructor in VSU’s American Sign Language/English Interpreting Program. “Wink takes you through decades of laughs, tribulations, and the uncertainty that he experienced personally and vicariously through his mother and father. Audiences get a taste of various emotions — laughter, joy, sadness, hurt, frustration and uplifting moments. The conglomeration will leave you with courage, interest, and hopefully can put not only your lives in perspective but also adjust your perspective of the Deaf community and hearing children living in Deaf families."

Wink grew up seeing his Deaf parents needing a sign language interpreter and being denied one. His loves for his parents spurred his professional career as a full-time advocate for Deaf rights. He became a certified interpreter at the age of 17. He strives to bridge the gap between the hearing world and the Deaf community and achieves this mission by presenting workshops on the Americans with Disabilities Act and mentoring other interpreters in an effort to train them to be effective and knowledgeable in the cultural norms of the Deaf community.

As a child, Wink watched his mother and father recount their life story countless times, experiencing firsthand the power of American Sign Language storytelling, every jolt, every twist and turn. Seeing and feeling these stories lead him to create a live show in order to share his family’s story. 

VSU is the only college in Georgia — and one of very few in the nation — that offers a Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.) in American Sign Language/English interpreting. The Department of Middle Grades, Secondary, Reading, and Deaf Education also offers a B.S.Ed., a Master of Education (M.Ed.), and a Master of Arts for Teachers (M.A.T.) in deaf and hard of hearing education. 

Sponsored by the American Sign Language Club at VSU, tickets for Wink’s performance may be reserved by contacting Kelly Spell, a university-based interpreter for VSU’s Access Office, via email at or by phone at (229) 245-2498, TTY (229) 219-1348, or VP (229) 375-5871. 

Note: “Deaf” and “deaf” are two different words in Deaf culture. Capital “D” Deaf is the culture/community of the group of people that consider their diagnosis not a disability. They are very proud of the way they are. Not capitalizing the ‘D’ in Deaf would be considered disrespectful to the Deaf culture. Lowercase “d” deaf is the diagnosis that medical personnel have given to the disability. If a person misuses these two terms, it could be the difference in offending someone and calling them disabled rather than actually respecting their culture.

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