Annabella Beachner Photojournalist
The American Sign Language Club is a university organization dedicated to creating a healthy learning experience for students on campus to promote the study and understanding of American Sign Language as well as deaf culture.
Meetings take place on Wednesdays at 6 p.m in Grubbs Hall 107. Meetings are run by president Korah Calvin, senior in communication education. Meetings are open to members with all levels of learning, from those who are fluent in ASL to those who are just starting to learn.
“We call it a collaborative learning experience,” Calvin said. “We just want anybody and everybody to be able to show up with no knowledge, or all the knowledge, whatever works. But that’s kind of our goal, is to have a collaborative learning experience.”
The Pittsburg State American Sign Language Club was founded last semester, in January of 2021. Meetings typically consist of introductions for any new members, then learning new words, as well as a few games revolving around deaf culture and sign language.
“We are hoping to do some events in the future. We are trying to get a trip planned to the Olathe school for the deaf, and then the Olathe Museum for the Deaf too,” Calvin said.
The meeting held on Sept. 7 included introductions for new members, then a game of deaf culture and sign language jeopardy. Some learning of basic sign language followed, using YouTube videos and guidance on how to say words like “mom” “dad” “thank you” as well as animals like “fox” “flamingo” and “elephant”. Then, members played a few rounds of deaf hangman, where members guess the next letter by holding up the sign language for that letter.
“I think it’s (learning ASL) just a lot to remember, you have to actually be dedicated or it’s going to be hard to actually learn the language,” Calvin said. “Just like with any language, you have to really want to do it… And then meeting the new people, I love to see all these people show up and want to learn sign language, because I am very passionate about deaf culture. So I am just so excited to see all of these people show up.”
American Sign Language has gone back throughout human history with mannerisms and human communication through body language. The credited “inventor” of ASL was Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Gallaudet developed it with his neighbor’s nine-year-old daughter. Gallaudet sought to work with deaf-mute people and learn the best ways to educate them. Over time, he founded the American School for the Deaf, alongside one of his professors during his studies named Laurent Clerc. Later, Gallaudet’s youngest son Edward Miner Gallaudet founded Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., and still stands today to teach the deaf community today.
Anyone interested in joining the ASL Club is encouraged to attend a meeting, as well as join the GroupMe for the club. More information can also be found on Gorilla Engage.