A more complete Alamo experience


My SA (San Antonio, Texas)

By Scott Huddleston


shuddleston@express-news.net
Updated 01:20 a.m., Friday, April 1, 2011
  • Deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing (right) and their two sons, Adam (pictured) and Joshua, are given a tour of the Alamo with the use of an American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez (left) and Alamo curator Bruce Winders. Photo: Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News

    Deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing (right) and their two sons, Adam (pictured) and Joshua, are given a tour of the Alamo with the use of an American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez (left) and Alamo curator Bruce Winders.

    Photo: Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News

    Deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing (right) and their two sons,…

  • Standing outside the front of the Alamo, deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing and their two sons, Adam and Joshua, are given a tour of the Alamo with the use of an American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez and Alamo curator Bruce Winders. Photo: Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News

    Standing outside the front of the Alamo, deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing and their two sons, Adam and Joshua, are given a tour of the Alamo with the use of an American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez and Alamo curator Bruce Winders.

    Photo: Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News

    Standing outside the front of the Alamo, deaf couple Bruce and…

  • Deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing (right) and their two sons, Adam (pictured) and Joshua, are given a tour of the Alamo with the use of an American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez (left) and Alamo curator Bruce Winders. Photo: Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News

    Deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing (right) and their two sons, Adam (pictured) and Joshua, are given a tour of the Alamo with the use of an American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez (left) and Alamo curator Bruce Winders.

    Photo: Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News

    Deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing (right) and their two sons,…

  • American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez (center) uses sign language with Alamo curator Bruce Winders (second from right) while giving a tour for deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing and their two sons, Adam and Joshua. Photo: Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News

    American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez (center) uses sign language with Alamo curator Bruce Winders (second from right) while giving a tour for deaf couple Bruce and Gail Fearing and their two sons, Adam and Joshua.

    Photo: Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News

    American Sign Language interpreter Cassandra Ramirez (center)…

Gail and Bruce Fearing can’t hear, but they longed to see and learn about the Alamo.

The deaf couple’s request for a sign-language interpreter may have sparked an effort to make the Alamo more user-friendly for the deaf. The couple and their two sons, who are not hearing-impaired, got a guided tour Thursday from Bruce Winders, Alamo historian and curator.

Early on, Winders explained that Davy Crockett didn’t care for the…

1834 portrait of him that’s on display in the state-owned shrine.

“He didn’t like the way he looked” in the painting, Winders told the couple with help from Cassandra Ramirez, an interpreter with Alamo Colleges who provided sign language free of charge.

But news of the famed frontiersman’s death in the 1836 battle aided the Texas Revolution, Winders said.

“People in the United States who didn’t care about the revolution began to care,” he said.

Other highlights included commentary on displays, including arrowheads from the site’s mission era and a poetry book the Alamo commander, Lt. Col. William Barret Travis, got at age 9. Winders said the book helped Travis learn the flair for writing he used to pen his moving letters during the siege.

The Fearings, from Wisconsin, nodded and asked questions orally. Gail Fearing called the visit a “great experience.”

“I learned a lot about the Alamo. The interpreter service was very helpful,” she said.

Alamo spokesman Tony Caridi said he arranged the tour after the couple asked for assistance. The Alamo can provide the deaf and hearing-impaired a free script from its audio tour and is studying the possibility of offering sign-language interpretation.

Gail Fearing said few sites offer sign language.

“When we were in Houston to see NASA and the Battleship (Texas), they didn’t provide interpreters, and I was kind of disappointed,” she said.

Other historic sites offer written tour scripts. The White House and Kentucky Derby Museum provide sign language if requested in advance.

In recent years, President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, where Abraham Lincoln and his family spent a lot of time from 1862 to 1864, used grants to purchase personal amplification devices and reformat its introductory film to include closed captioning.

San Antonio College, which has a Department of American Sign Language, would like to help the Alamo offer the service, said Julie Razuri, director of the college’s interpreter intern group. San Antonio’s deaf community is estimated at roughly 8,000 to 18,000 people, she said.

Even though there might be a cost, it may be possible to give more deaf people an Alamo experience, Razuri said.

“The important thing is that the Alamo wants to be accessible,” she said.

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