By Alana Sundermann
The deaf community is one that is not well known to the University of Findlay, however the American Sign Language (ASL) club is pushing for more student evolvement and recognition.
President of the ASL club, Hope Brant, wants to encourage students to join but also create an atmosphere that is gentle and laid back.
“I want it to be a friendlier and more welcoming environment,” said Brant.
Most people in the club are enrolled in an ASL class. However, Hope made it clear that anyone is welcome to come. The club holds meetings every two weeks in light of the Deaf community. Hope has come up with ways to keep the meetings light and fun.
“I’ve been trying to do games every week that we have a meeting,” said Brant.
As for the club’s future, Hope plans to hold events that will keep the campus engaged in the Deaf community. According to Hope, Deaf Coffee is an event run by Kyle Parke, an ASL II and Deaf culture professor at UF. This event is one that sparked Hope’s interest for thoughts of an event to be held on UF’s campus.
“It is an event held for the Deaf community at the Franklin Park mall in Toledo, they come, and they socialize,” said Brant. “BGSU ASL students, as well as UF ASL students come to interact with them. I want to do something similar, hopefully next semester.”
Hope’s goal is to create a club were people feel welcomed and safe, but most importantly help spread awareness to the deaf culture.
Vice President of the ASL club, Zoe Zuress, shares a similar message to their current members and newcomers.
“More than anything, I want people to not see American sign language as intimidating. I want it to be something that is for all levels whether you are a beginner, or you have experience with sign language,” said Zuress.
According to Zuress, a foreign language may seem intimidating but once some time is spent learning about ASL, the view on the Deaf community may change.
“Discovering that type of community that is involved with American Sign Language is something that is really unique and special. Especially once you realize how that community functions and how it brings people together,” Zuress said.
Both Brant and Zuress want this club to showcase all the unique qualities this culture has to offer, but also create a welcoming and engaging environment that is open to all students on campus.
Current advisor for the club and Instructor of Teaching in American Sign Language, Leah Brant, urges her students to spread the word about this fun-interactive club.
“I encourage my students to take their roommates or friends, it doesn’t matter if they know ASL or not,” said Brant.
Being an ASL instructor at UF, Brant is very passionate about ASL and the Deaf community.
“I am definitely devoted to the learning of both ASL and Deaf culture. Learning that will never end. Taking this knowledge and interacting with the Deaf community is a must to fully embrace and respect the language and culture,” Brant said.
Educating her club members to have this same excitement towards ASL is just one of the many things Brant does to help improve the club’s recognition. According to Brant, the club is cohosting an event in November.
“ASL club will be cohosting a presentation on Nov. 14 for UF and the community feature Kyle Parke and his life as a deaf man,” said Brant.
This event will not only help students to see what it is like to live in a silent world, but it will also grow appreciation for deaf culture.
“I like the idea that students equate ASL with fun, while having a high level of respect for the language and culture,” said Brant.