Baylor University
How Extraordinary the Stories
The President's Scholarship Initiative


Breaking the Barrier

A Baylor Student Brings the Sounds of Music to Life for the
Hearing-Impaired Community

How can one communicate the moving magic of music to someone who's never--in his or her entire lifetime--had the privilege of hearing a single song? It's not a question most of us ponder on a regular basis. But as a Baylor freshman, on behalf of her deaf childhood friend, Allyson Townsend desperately wanted to find an answer.

"My friend would ask me, 'How do you know which words to sing at which point, and how do you know how long to say the word?' and other questions like that," Ally said.

And so, beginning with the song "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer, Ally began making "music videos" using American Sign Language and posting them on a YouTube channel she created for that purpose, Ally ASL.

Little did she know that her effort to bless her friend with the gift of song would explode into a widely viewed and highly sought after phenomenon by the deaf and
hearing-impaired community. Over the last four years, Ally's online videos have gained a following of more that 15,000 thankful viewers and have incurred more than 1 million hits.

In January of 2011, Ally was named ABC News' Person of the Week. But despite all the attention, Ally remains focused on one goal: bridging the gap for persons surrounded by the sound of silence into the rhythm of the hearing world around them.

After graduating with a degree in deaf education from Baylor in 2010, Ally began teaching deaf and hard of hearing second graders in Mesquite, Texas, a role she finds incredibly gratifying. "Yesterday, I gave a reading test and one of my students had moved up six levels from where he was at the beginning of the year," Ally related. "That makes me feel like I've accomplished something. It's an extremely rewarding experience."

Though Ally isn't deaf and doesn't have any family members with impaired hearing, she saw a need and decided she would be the one to fill it, even in the midst of a busy college career. Though her excellent high school grades had provided her with a modest merit scholarship at Baylor, Ally had to contend with increasing financial concerns throughout her college career, as well as incurring the burden of many student loans. Extraordinary stories are happening through the lives and giftings of Baylor students, like Ally, across campus and around the globe. Be a part of making more of these stories possible by supporting endowed scholarships today.