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July 7, 2003

Visual art inspired by world of silence

From: Pensacola News Journal, FL - Jul 7, 2003

Deaf artist finds success with unique eye

Brett Norman

When a local sign-language services company needed to drum up a company logo, Tracey Corbett knew she was unusually qualified for the job.

The 29-year-old Pensacolian is an accomplished graphic design student at Pensacola Junior College, but she never listens to her professors: She watches them. Corbett is shadowed through her classes by an interpreter who translates constantly the "hearing world" that swirls around the classrooms and hallways.

When Corbett learned of the opportunity to design the logo for Panhandle Sign Language Services Inc., she thought it was a perfect combination of her talents and interests.

"I want to show the ease of visual communication so people can understand clearly what its meaning is," Corbett signed to her interpreter, Kerry Fitzsimmons.

The logo design combines the company's initials - SLS - with two sets of hands forming the American Sign Language sign for "interpretation."

"I couldn't envision it, but it came out exactly as I would have wanted it," said Joni Caraway, president of the company. "It has a lot of subtlety that I don't think the general person would recognize. I always wanted something that would appeal to deaf people as well as the hearing."

The logo is now on company fliers and letterhead.

"We're just lucky to get her talent," Caraway said. "Tracey's one of those quiet types that has all this creativity inside of her that comes out all the time."

Allan Peterson, director of PJC's visual arts department, said Corbett is an exceptional student distinguished not by her handicap but by her skill.

"Student disabilities have not interfered with students participating in any field they choose," Peterson said.

Corbett is an excellent example, he said, citing not only the logo but her award-winning submissions to the annual student art show.

"I work hard and I try my best and I think I can do it," Corbett said. "I know I'm improving. I keep improving."

Corbett grew up in the Jacksonville school system, where she was "mainstreamed" into classes with the general school population.

"My parents grew up in the hearing world, so they wanted me to learn orally," she said.

But she has always been an avid drawer and deeply appreciative of visual beauty.

She moved to Pensacola in 1999. The Bay Area's natural beauty and outdoor activities are part of the reason she hopes to stay.

"I enjoy fishing, for sure. I like saltwater best," Corbett said. "And I like to go to the beach. I just love it here because the beach is so beautiful. It's so much better than Jacksonville's."

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