Smiling Tamara Trice

Ryliegh Martin , Writer, Editor

American Sign Language or ASL, has been the known language of the Deaf in the United States since 1817. Many of those who are fluent, are deaf or hard of hearing and choose to learn it because of the impairment they have. However, even before having the issue of difficult hearing, Tamara Trice began to learn ASL from a young age. 

“I started when I was in the fourth grade because the elementary school I went to had a class for the hearing impaired and deaf,” Mrs.Trice said. “I made a friend and she started teaching me signs.”

As a teacher here at Colleyville, Mrs.Trice has helped to develop a stronger understanding in the classroom that equips the hearing students with the knowledge of the Deaf community. She decodes for the students the importance of the deaf and the world of signing. 

“I learned a lot from Mrs.Trice,” Danielle Liesdyanto said. “For example, the importance of using facial expressions and/or name signs. I took ASL three years ago and didn’t know these were a thing, but now I do know.”

In addition, because the deaf community relies so much on visual ways, facial expressions have been a key part in the language, helping the deaf and hard of hearing to understand the extent of the signed words. 

“Like COVID, that’s been the biggest thing as far as having to wear masks,” Mrs.Trice said. “Because they (deaf) depend so much on facial expressions and being able to lip-read, it really penalized the deaf community.”

Though the struggle in the pandemic has truly “penalized” the deaf community, Mrs.Trice found it was just the right example to show hearing people how difficult it can be for them. Likewise, teaching students how unique the Deaf community is and what they can do as students to help improve accessibility.

“[My encouragement to teach about the deaf] is just so they can be appreciated and others can learn the beauty of the language, also to make things accessible,” Mrs.Trice said. “I know how frustrating it is not being able to understand what is being said because TV isn’t captioned or commercials, news programs. They don’t have access and they have to find out later.” 

In Trice’s 28 years of teaching, she’s gone from teaching those in the deaf community to those who are hearing here at Colleyville. At first, Trice was nervous to teach at a school of hearing students, but in time she learned she enjoyed bringing those who were moderately aware into the light. 

“It is important to sign when you are with a deaf person,” Ianna Belmares said. “[With Mrs.Trice] I have learned that your facial expressions are really important.” 

In part of Trice’s ability to sign, it came in handy even more when she found out that she herself had a hearing impairment that was a “noise-induced hearing loss.” In effect of her impairment- caused by listening to her music too loud- she became an advocate of “Don’t blare your headphones!”

With the world of signing and the entire culture of the deaf, Trice encourages her students to rise and take responsibility to make themselves more aware, more sensitive and learn how to communicate with the people they have around them. 

“It can be frustrating, needing interpreters. [For example] whenever the Governor is making announcements or mandates,” Mrs.Trice said. “Being aware and learning how to communicate and becoming more sensitive instead of ignoring them. Being Deaf isn’t visual so lots of times they get mistaken for being stuck up or rude because they don’t respond when people talk to them, so just be aware.”


Fun Fact:

Name signs are given to people by the Deaf community and you may only receive one by a deaf person.

Trice’s name sign was given to her at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind:

Mine is a t for Tammy Trice and it’s by my mouth and its twisting and it’s because of smiling and laughing.”