Sign of the times

2 03 2009

ASL, a new world language option in St. Mary’s County schools, gains following in first year

Friday, Feb. 27, 2009

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‘Sesame Street’ actress still serves as role model

12 02 2009
Linda Bove visits Strong museum.

Linda Bove visits Strong museum.

Wednesday, Feburary 11, 2009

Laura Borrelli stood just beyond the double doors of the Strong National Museum of Play, smiling and having more fun than her two children. She was having a star-struck moment, seeing Linda Bove, the deaf actress who played Linda the Librarian on Sesame Street from 1971 to 2003.

“I remember growing up and Linda being the first deaf person I saw on television,” said Borrelli, of Greece, who watched Sesame Street in the late ’70s and early ’80s. “It was wonderful seeing someone doing sign language, and she was a strong role model for young children.”

Margo McCluskey of Greece is thrilled to have deaf actress Linda Bove, who played Linda the Librarian on Sesame Street, autograph toys from the children's series at the Strong National Museum of Play.

Margo McCluskey of Greece is thrilled to have deaf actress Linda Bove, who played Linda the Librarian on Sesame Street, autograph toys from the children's series at the Strong National Museum of Play.

Bove, who introduced thousands of children to sign language and issues surrounding the deaf community, made an appearance Tuesday at the museum. She was in town to narrate two television public service announcements featuring deaf actors and dialogue in American Sign Language. The announcements are intended to promote awareness in the deaf community about depression and the importance of seeking help early.

“This is an issue that the hearing community has had accessibility in learning about for a long time, and that isn’t the case in the deaf community,” said Bove, through an interpreter. “I want people who have a problem with depression to know how and where they can get help.”

Robert Pollard, a psychiatry professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and director of the Deaf Wellness Center, said there is a dearth of public service announcements in the deaf community focusing on mental health issues. The 30-second and 60-second announcements will air this summer.

“It’s all about access. Radio is not an accessible way for the deaf community to learn about depression and even closed-captioning requires a high level of literacy,” he said. “This is an important message that needs to get out.”

During Bove’s two-hour stay at the museum, she signed photographs, talked to parents and teenagers who grew up seeing her on television, and toured the Sesame Street exhibit. She said she was impressed to see the original Ernie and Burt puppets at the museum.

“What I like about this museum is that you can actually touch some of the exhibits and you don’t feel like you have to put your hands away or at your sides,” Bove said. “It was so exciting reliving some moments about a great time in my life.”