Utah’s Wood Badge course for both deaf and hearing Scouters leaves nobody out

Every Scout deserves a trained leader, and every leader deserves an opportunity for high-quality training.

Well, there’s no better training for adults than Wood Badge, and that philosophy of “No Scouter untrained” led Utah’s Great Salt Lake Council to create a Wood Badge course tailored for both deaf and hearing Scouters.

Though the course does use American Sign Language, it’s actually an inclusion course, meaning all are welcome. What a great way for hearing Scouters to have their eyes opened to the unique perspectives of Scouters who communicate using ASL.

The first course in 2012 was eye-opening. It was sanctioned by the National Council, which sent an observer to watch the proceedings. You can see a terrific video from that course at the end of this post.

The 2013 course last May had 57 registered, including 21 deaf participants and 11 Scouters who are bilingual, meaning they can communicate using both ASL and English. That’s a nice mix.

This is Great Salt Lake Council’s third year offering the course, and this time it’s a weeklong course instead of two weekends — meaning it’s easier for out-of-towners to participate. It’ll be held May 12 to 17, 2014, at Syndermill Lodge in Park City, Utah.

The clock is ticking, but there’s still time for you to sign up and attend.

“It would really be nice to see some experienced Scouters attend to take it back to the other three regions so this kind of event can be done regionally,” says New York Scouter Ursula Seefeld. “The experience for the hearing is something different and new, as well as enhancing.”

You can register and learn more at this link and visit the ASL Wood Badge Facebook page here.

Video from the first deaf-accessible Wood Badge course in 2012

23 thoughts on “Utah’s Wood Badge course for both deaf and hearing Scouters leaves nobody out

  1. Bryan…
    Actually Ursula Seefeld is out of New York not Utah…*smiles
    THANKS for the word spread!!

  2. This is fantastic. I kind of find it odd though that in a video that is promoting such wonderful inclusiveness of the deaf you ignore exactly what the one man said about watching several videos with no captioning. That is the only thing I thing should be added to this. That must have been an amazing course though.

  3. My course (C-29 1994) had a deaf participant who supplied his own interpeter. Since my council had a troop sponsored by the Illinois School for the Deaf and my troop had a number of Scouts who used ASL, I paid attention. The two “least accessible” moments were the opening campfire (the interpreter finally gave an elaborate shrug and folded her hands as the story of BP at Mafekin was told) and one of our pioneering events where she couldn’t stay in a spot where he could easily see her.

    I am glad we’re doing this….

    • Patrick,
      Yeah there are moments when struggles are noticeable. Campfire is one of them and light flickering doesn’t help especially if one is lip reading.
      For what you describe, sounds like the interpreter wasn’t a Scouter so much of the lingo was confusing her in telling the story. Also fingerspelling can slow an interpreter down if they don’t know the sign or if there isn’t a sign for something.

  4. Just awesome!!! Keep up this good work for the good of ALL scouts and yes, bring it to all areas of the country. We need to show that everyone can truly get involved and benefit from the scouting program. Where I live there is a school for the deaf and wouldn’t it be grand to have a fully functioning unit there one day. It can be done. Kudos to those 2 individuals who wrote this fantastic project for their Wood Badge ticket. Also, many thanks to Great Salt Lake Council for taking this concept to fruition. Thanks to National for taking interest in the need to have these kinds of accessible trainings. Yes, expansion of this facet of the program needs to be done. I trust that the right people are working together and this can and will be done.

  5. FYI…There is a limited number of scholarships available for deaf participants for this course. Email the Course Director through ‘this link’ posted above. Also some BSA Councils have Wood Badge Scholarships (much like Campership Scholarships) that can help you with funds.

  6. I was on Staff for last May’s course and it was a fantastic experience! There is much more preparation for a Bi-Lingual course especially one using ASL since there is very little previous material to draw from. About half of the course was either Deaf or ASL. This course offering will only be able to be supported on a annual basis if Deaf and ASL Scouters across the country sign up and support it. Just as I tell all Scout leaders I visit with it is a learning opportunity that is unrivaled and for the Deaf community is available right now on such a limited basis.

    You cannot beat the setting in Snydermill just outside of Park City and for all participants it provides a unique understanding in what it takes for Scouters to function in unity and inclusiveness.

    Just as stated above, any Deaf or ASL participant should not worry about scholarship money to attend just make the time and commitment there are plenty of resources to make attending easier. Sign up now!

  7. This is a fine example of inclusion. Here is another: The Baltimore Area Council will be hosting a Sabbath Observant, Kosher Wood Badge Course from 9-13 June 2014. Please share this information so that we can have a successful course. For those Scouters whose religious observance prevents them from attending a weekend-only course (not just Jews, but Muslim, and many Christians, too), this week-long (Monday-Friday) offering is just the “ticket”!
    For more information or to register for this great event see: http://www.baltimorebsa.org/wood-badge/n6-220-14-1/53549

  8. I am very excited to see all of the efforts being made to reach out to all areas of scouting to deliver the mountain top experience of Wood Badge. I would like to thank Seth for mentioning the Sabbath Friendly course being offered by Baltimore Area Council. I am the course director for this course N6 220-14-1 and welcome any and all that may want to join us. We will again be offering a opportunity for those from out of state to join our orientation night via Skype or other means so that you can avoid traveling to Maryland twice. Please feel free to email me with questions.

  9. If anything mentioned here is the awareness to those volunteers who have disabilities or chronic illnesses, both visible and non-visible. The Average volunteer would be amazed to know how many adults they know &/or see regularly have such handicaps. Special Needs awareness in the BSA of recent has emphasized our youth members, not adults; this article slowly begins this change.

    • Some of these Scouters are ACTIVE Scouters doing multiple jobs/events for unit, district and/or council events and committees. A Scouter I know has chronic illnesses yet amazes me in all they are doing. They just earned a District Award of Merit is spite of their daily challenges.

  10. Scouting sure has come a long way since I was involved.
    I went all the way thru growing up from cub to eagle scout .
    I still Remember most of the lessons and training to this day .
    I have found that it has helped in most everyday life decisions n situations.
    I wish they would have had this program back then cause it would have helped a lot more folks especially in the Are I was from .
    The advantage I had W’s the my mom worked as a teacher at the school for the deaf so I was exposed to at least the basics .
    I find it helpful to know even to this day .
    It’s makes a world of difference when you can communicate to the hearing impaired.
    So congratulations to the participants n coordinators of this course ..
    Job well done .

  11. I have a friend who is coming to this course, who is extremely excited to understand Wood Badge better with an interpreter. Thanks for this article to spread the word!

  12. Awesome start. As someone who relies on closed captioning, I’ve always said that all BSA videos should be. Would have been even better if this video was captioned.

  13. Karen.. Try this direct link instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ty71q8Oa-E. Bryan didn’t set the video in the captions mode since he doesn’t use it BEFORE he posted it so of course the caption button doesn’t show here. (Thanks for making me aware of that ‘must do’ tip so I make sure links I post on my blog are done correctly.)

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