Suiter-Ocuto is the host of ACCESS News, a half-hour news and civic affairs program designed for Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing viewers. ACC has teamed with the civic learning organization Civication Inc. to produce the show; the second season begins airing Sunday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m. on KLRU. Every episode will be rebroadcast the following day on ACC’s cable channel (19 on Time Warner Cable).
“I was honored to be asked to be the host of ACCESS News, and I have seen firsthand the impact the show has had on Austin’s Deaf community,” Suiter-Ocuto says.
The program is presented in American Sign Language, English, and closed captioning. Suiter-Ocuto, who is Deaf, works with interpreter Jennifer Stoker to communicate with hearing guests.
“When I visit the Texas School for the Deaf, students as young as six years old recognize me and talk to me about the show,” notes Suiter-Ocuto. “I am proud to be a role model for them, showing them that they can achieve whatever they aim to be.”
Since ACCESS News began, Suiter-Ocuto has interviewed everyone from professors to political figures and community leaders. During a recent interview with Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, topics ranged from stand-your-ground laws to police shootings and how the department interacts with Deaf citizens.
“ACCESS News is watched by educated viewers who want to stay informed on local issues,” Chief Acevedo says. “The audience has a clear understanding of what is going on in Austin, and those are the people I want to reach out to.”
Other second season guests include Texas Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, State Rep. Donna Howard, ACC History Professor Andres Tijerina, and civil rights attorney Jim Harrington.
“Deaf education and culture are important facets of what makes Austin unique and special. We are proud to help bring this resource to the community,” says Lyman Grant, dean of arts and humanities at ACC. “ACCESS News is a quality program that inspires intelligent and informed discussions on topics that are engaging and relevant for all viewers.”
The program is taped at the college’s Pinnacle Campus. ACC staff members handle most of the production process, from running the camera to editing the video.
“The collaboration between ACC and ACCESS News will help make our program more accessible to those in the community,” says Ken Hurley, director of Civication. “I can’t think of a better, more engaging team than Tamara and Jennifer, and it is a joy to work with the ACC production crew.”
ACC serves as a regional center for Gallaudet University, the world’s only university in which all programs are specifically designed for Deaf and hard of hearing students. Both ACCESS News host Suiter-Ocuto and interpreter Stoker are Gallaudet University graduates.
ACC has a number of education programs and services for Deaf students and those preparing for careers working with the Deaf community. The college has more than 200 Deaf or hard of hearing students, and several faculty members graduated from Gallaudet University.
“The ACCESS News partnership is one more way ACC is serving the Deaf and hard of hearing community – but whether viewers are Deaf or hearing, this program is engaging television,” Grant says. “It educates, inspires, and serves as a reminder of the importance of being dedicated citizens in our community.”
ACCESS News is funded by the Knight Community Information Needs Challenge Grant, offered by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The program is also supported by the Austin Community Foundation.
Find out more about ACCESS News and watch previous episodes on the ACCESS News website. To learn about ACC’s ASL and interpreter training programs, visit austincc.edu/info/sign. For information on the Gallaudet University Regional Center at ACC, visit austincc.edu/swgurc.
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