Skip to Content


Family Connections Provide Students with Unique Insight into Deaf Experience

April 27, 2023

ALLIANCE, Ohio — Students in Professor Susan McConnell’s Introduction to American Sign Language (ASL) course at the University of Mount Union received an engaging, hands-on learning opportunity from Rob McConnell, a Deaf individual who has a successful career in accessibility. 

Rob, the son of Susan and Mark McConnell, associate professor of marketing at Mount Union, has spent nearly a decade as a communication accessibility and policy specialist with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, DC. In this role, Rob works directly with the Accessible Communication for Everyone (ACE) Initiative, the FCC Accessibility Clearinghouse and in public relations for the Disability Rights Office of the FCC. 

Visiting his mother’s class on April 14, the day before National American Sign Language Day, Rob provided insight into his career and aspects of Deaf culture students might not have encountered before taking the course. 

“The highlight of Rob’s class visit was when Rob gave every student a name sign,” Susan said. “It’s part of Deaf culture for people to get their name signs from a Deaf person. He asked each student to share a bit about themselves, then would give them a name sign.”


group of students with rob mcconnell signing 

“Meeting Rob was a great learning experience. His genuine presence was a pivotal moment in learning about deaf culture," said Jacob Zappitelli ’23. 

The class meets three days each week, with two days focused on learning ASL and the third on Deaf culture. 

“It was fantastic to share my experiences with Mount Union students and give them a glimpse of what daily life is like for Deaf individuals,” Rob said. “My family has such strong ties to Mount Union, so meeting up with them and connecting with their students is great.”

Learn more about Mount Union’s language offerings at