The American Sign Language (ASL) Club is an educational advocacy club determined to share awareness of deaf culture on campus, and provide students with the opportunity to learn basic ASL vocabulary. The ASL club is currently led by Michaela Renna and Jess Tanzini, two Human Services seniors who are passionate about the deaf community and spreading their rich culture.
The ASL club is new as of this year. Renna and Tanzini started the club to be able to continue ASL education and spreading of culture outside of the classroom. The two never saw themselves starting a club on campus, but were so moved by the language and culture in their ASL class that they were determined to keep learning. Both students had the opportunity to learn simple ASL when they were much younger, and have been itching to keep learning ever since.
The club has brought awareness to many aspects of the deaf community that are often, unfortunately, overlooked.
“There is general lack of understanding and awareness about ASL and the deaf community,” Tanzini stated. “I think it is something we should be aware of in our society, because there are a lot of deaf community members.”
The club held international week of the deaf last semester, in which they sent out facts about the deaf community in campus-wide emails. Renna and Tanzini also stressed the problem with the lack of interpreters available in our community, and overall in our society.
The ASL club is open to anyone on campus. Members do not have to have experience with ASL, as the whole club is learning together. Every week, the club members, which are a mix of both students and community members, make a collaborative effort to learn a new song, basic signs, greetings, and any other sign that the members are interested in learning about.
“My favorite memory was when we finished learning how to sign ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love with You’” Renna stated. “We got to watch everyone sign and give emotion, sign so fluidly, and be proud of what they learned.”
The club is very flexible in teaching its participants signs to use in everyday life to aid them in learning how to communicate with the deaf community, even if they are not fluent in ASL. Those with no knowledge of ASL, or those that are highly experienced, are able to join the club. New members are encouraged to join as soon as they would like. The club sends out emails to share when they are meeting, and new members are always welcome.
Written by Madison Fermini, Communication Studies senior