RIVERSIDE—The Model Deaf Community Committee and City of Riverside will be honoring Deaf Awareness Week with a massive festival celebration on Mission Inn Avenue lasting all day on Saturday, September 19.

The free event, which will be hosted from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., will close down the entire block of Mission Inn Avenue near the City of Riverside Main Public Library between Lemon Street and Orange Street.

The Model Deaf Community also hosted an ASL Storytime event at Barnes and Noble back in 2013.
The Model Deaf Community also hosted an ASL Storytime event at Barnes and Noble back in 2013. Photo Courtesy Model Deaf Community via Flickr.

Over 40 vendors and organizations have confirmed and secured their booths for the celebration. Families and children are encouraged as there will be bounce houses, a rock-climbing wall, live demonstrations, deaf focused arts and crafts, face painting and children’s story time in American Sign Language (ASL).

The celebration’s headlining performer will be deaf rapper and hip-hop artist Sean Forbes, with special guest Mr. Shineyhead, an actor and ASL performer who has been professionally trained by the national Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) Actor’s Academy and DeafWest Theatre.

Forbes, 33, has been rapping since the age of 20, and has amassed national coverage and support. His music videos often feature him performing his songs in both spoken English and ASL, with closed captioning integrated into the video as well. Forbes, who is currently on tour, has a released a full-length album, multiple singles and a free mixtape available for download. He is also a co-founder of The Professional Deaf Arts Network (D-PAN), a non-profit organization that facilitates and promotes professional development and access to the entertainment, visual and media arts fields for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

This year’s event is sponsored by 11 organizations and companies, including the California School for the Deaf: Riverside, CODiE (Center On Deafness – Inland Empire), LifeSigns and Rise Interpreting.

The Model Deaf Community Committee has been serving the City of Riverside since 1999, when the mayor and city council approved the creation of a special task force aimed to make Riverside a “model community” for the deaf and hard of hearing.  The committee is comprised of 22 community individuals, all appointed by the mayor, whose mission statement is “helping to create an integrated community that promotes: full participation in society, education and employment, effective communication, and cultural awareness.”