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ASU's American Sign Language Club connects Deaf and hearing students

ASU's American Sign Language Club gives students the opportunity to get involved in the Deaf community

Screen shot of Prajwal Paudyal from The State Press' video on the American Sign Language Club.

Screen shot of Prajwal Paudyal from The State Press' video on the American Sign Language Club.

ASU’s American Sign Language club connects Deaf and hearing students together to develop their ASL skills through games, community service events and activities.

American Sign Language professor, Pamela Howard of the College of Health Solutions, has been the off and on advisor of ASL club since 2003 when it was first created.

“The club was started by a group of enthusiastic ASL students that wanted opportunities to use ASL outside of the classroom and connect with the deaf community,” Howard said. “This has been done via events with deaf students at ASU, who have also been members of the club and held officer positions and events in the community.”

Howard has taught American Sign Language at ASU for the past 20 years and thought it was only natural to become the advisor of ASL club.

Communications sophomore Brandon Whiteley and president of ASL club sparked an interest in learning sign language during high school.

“I used to read books that taught you vocabulary in sign language,” Whiteley said. “I always thought it was really cool to do sign language to music, and that got me interested in pursuing it further.”

Whiteley is also roommates with a deaf student, which pushed him to learn the language even more and gave him an inside look into the deaf community.

“Interacting with the community is amazing, and I love getting to see and experience a different culture for myself,” Whiteley said.

Whiteley took over ASL club this year and hopes to get the club more involved in the deaf community by getting out of the classroom and practicing sign language through social events and activities.

ASL club holds deaf socials which encourages students to be as silent as possible and use sign language to the best of their ability while having fun and playing games. The club also hosts silent lunches and other events such as bowling and bingo nights, which provides students multiple opportunities to practice ASL.

“It’s a unique language, and it’s not super challenging to learn once you start practicing,” Whiteley said. “I definitely encourage people to check it out no matter what level they are at.”

Sophomore speech and hearing sciences major Kelly Walsh started learning sign language her freshman year at ASU and joined ASL club to become exposed to sign language as much as possible. 

"The Deaf community is a population I would possibly like to work with in the future," Walsh said. "ASL club allows me to continue to grow in the language and utilize my skills."

Sophomore speech and hearing sciences major Annika Manliguez joined ASL club to become more involved in the Deaf community and said it is a great opportunity to interact with other students and practice signing.

“I became interested in taking sign language because it was one of the recommended electives in my major,” Manliguez said. “It is a very unique and rarely known language which really interested me to learn.”

Manliguez is working to become fluent in sign language and hopes to pursue a career in speech pathology.

“Knowing sign language is very beneficial in that field and is another reason to why I was interested in taking sign language,” Manliguez said.

Manliguez enjoys connecting and immersing herself into a different culture. She said that the American Sign Language Program at ASU is an opportunity more students should take advantage of.

The American Sign Language Program at ASU is housed in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and offers a four-semester sequence of ASL courses. All courses use the immersion method to teach students and prohibits the use of spoken language.

American Sign Language courses can satisfy the foreign language requirement of most majors at ASU.

ASL club encourages all students to join no matter what level of sign language they are currently at and take the opportunity to learn a new and unique language that many students don't know. 

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