Members of the 4201 Schools Association, specializing in serving deaf and hard-of-hearing students, are planning a variety of activities to commemorate International Deaf Awareness Week, Sept. 21 to 25.

The association’s members, which also serve blind and severely physically disabled students, will mark the week with events designed to raise awareness and educate the public.

“International Deaf Awareness Week has multiple purposes,” said Bernadette Kappen, chairwoman of the 4201 Schools Association and executive director of the New York Institute for Special Education. “Raising awareness helps educators and students bring the community closer to the work we do and it helps them understand the accomplishments of our students. We focus on our students outstanding abilities.”

Tim Kelly, vice chair of the 4201 Schools Association and superintendent of St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo, said, “This is a perfect opportunity to reach out to our community and extended families to educate, celebrate and share the work our students and staff do each day throughout the year. We are very excited for this week and to share our ‘child-first’ philosophy.”

St. Mary’s is planning several events during the week, including a “Kick-Off” event at the Walden Galleria mall in Buffalo, an open house at the school museum, an appearance by deaf comedian and story teller Noah Buchholz, and various family activities. On September 23, students will be signing the Canadian and U.S. national anthems at the Buffalo Sabres game.

Lexington School for the Deaf in Queens held fundraisers to purchase T-shirts for its students. The school also plans to hold a “Kick-off Assembly on Sept. 21, and student representatives will lead the Lexington School song and present what signing means to them. Each class will have their pictures taken with the Lexington School mascot, the Blue Jay.

At Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf in Nassau County, students will create a time capsule of writings, videos, art, photographs. Each student will imagine what schools for the deaf will look like in 1,000 years. They will hold videoconferences with students from other schools, including Rochester School for the Deaf and New York School for the Deaf, seeking their predictions, as well.

The students will be asked to contemplate: What a Deaf family’s home and a school for the deaf look like in 50 years; How will American Sign Language (ASL) evolve in 2065?