SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — JA BizTown was renamed DeafTown for the day, Oct. 6, as students from Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Colorado Schools for the Deaf and Blind took to the streets of the Spencer F. Eccles Junior Achievement City.

Students spent a few weeks preparing for their day at BizTown, known today as DeafTown, which has miniature versions of businesses. The miniature stores are complete with workstations, cash registers, uniforms, and inventory that has to be stocked before they can open for business.

The students start their journey with classroom-based lessons through the Junior Achievement program, in order to fulfill JA’s mission of empowering today’s youth to own their economic success. They have lessons in money management, team building, how to run a business, and how to be good citizens. It aims to teach them how economies work.

Prior to coming to the miniature city, students are assigned roles with many of them acting as CEO’s and CFO’s of the companies represented. There is even an elected Mayor who gives out awards and makes speeches.

Students receive tasks at each of their assigned jobs. Workers “check” power meters, work as bank tellers, run convenience stores, and become TV and newspaper reporters that feature local businesses. Service businesses even have departments where students issue bills that need to be paid. Every employee receives a “paycheck” they can spend at the local shops and they get lunch breaks and schedules.

Students from Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Oklahoma work in different capacities for local and national businesses during JA DeafTown.

“What’s really special about today with our deaf students is they are getting an opportunity to visit a city where everybody speaks their language. They don’t have to feel like they need special attention or can’t be heard or seen. They get to go shopping, go to the bank, get a loan, and do some shopping in a city all with people who speak their language. So this gives them a really unique opportunity to see what a community feels like for them.”

Becky Vanderlinden, Capstone Director for JA Utah and Idaho

Students get to attend DeafTown every other year. Kevin Berrigan, Transition Specialist at the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind, said his favorite part of the day was seeing the students from USDB interact with peers from the other schools and getting a glimpse of some of the career paths available to all students.

Local and national companies are represented in the JA City including Delta, Maverik, Merit Medical, RC Willey, Discover, Chick-fil-A, Computech, First Security, Dominion Energy, The Salt Lake County Library, Smith’s, Rocky Mountain Power, The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation, Marathon, Salt Lake City School Districts, Synchrony, United Way, US Synthetic, WCF Insurance and Zions Bank.