Learning to sign



Sarah Nam

  The first ten minutes are spent in silence. As people walk into the room, we exchange smiles and sign “Hi! How are you?” The University’s American Sign Language club meets every other week to acquire new vocabulary and learn about deaf culture. The club welcomes all new members, regardless of prior experience.

 Last semester, we learned how to sign the alphabet and Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” We learned that members of the deaf community do not view their deafness as a disability. They appreciate the community they are a part of and the unique, beautiful language they communicate in. As members of the ASL club, we take on challenges that offer a glimpse into the life of a deaf person. Last semester, we walked around campus with our headphones in and the volume turned all the way up. We learned how to pay close attention to body language and hand gestures. Challenges such as these give members a deeper understanding of the obstacles deaf people overcome. Learning American Sign Language is a difficult, but rewarding experience. 

“The mission of the ASL Club is to provide a space for Villanova students from all levels of ASL to gain and expand our knowledge about American Sign Language as well as Deaf Culture as a whole,” Mary Beth Griffin, Vice President of ASL said. “Through learning vocabulary, studying the culture, and mastering song lyrics, we aim to make this club as fun, practical and educational as possible.” 

In an effort to immerse themselves in deaf culture and community, members of the ASL club spent the day at Gallaudet University, a university in Washington D.C. for deaf students. Vice President Griffin hopes to have another off-campus trip. She also plans to have another Deaf Movie Night that spreads awareness about the deaf community across campus. 

If you would like to be a part of ASL, you can contact Mary Beth Griffin at [email protected]. ASL typically meets on a Monday or Tuesday night, and the location changes with every meeting.