Eager to enhance their communication skills by gaining practice outside the classroom, students in Red River College’s Deaf Studies and American Sign Language — English Interpretation programs have teamed with Deaf students from other programs to launch a new ASL Club.
The club — which is open to all RRC students, Deaf or not — allows members to teach other new skills in a safe, welcoming and fun environment.
It borrows its acronym from American Sign Language, the most common method of communication used by Deaf people in North America, and the one currently being taught to a number of the students who comprise the club’s inaugural roster.
Evan Husack, a Social Innovation and Community Development student at RRC, was appointed leader of the club shortly after it formed. So far, Husack and fellow co-founder Stephanie Jebb — both of whom are themselves Deaf — say they’re pleased with how things are progressing.
“It’s been going really well and it’s a safe space for people to use their signs,” he says.
Husack (shown above, at left) believes it’s important that all RRC students who plan to work with or in the Deaf community join the club, as they stand to learn a lot of things that can’t be taught in a classroom.
“The biggest thing to really improve your skills is to socialize with the Deaf community, if you actually want to get better,” Husack says.
“Being able to socialize [and] meet real Deaf people, that’s where you develop your skills.”
The ASL Club meets every Wednesday from noon to one p.m., in room F314 at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus.
Members arrange their desks in a circle, ensuring everyone has a clear view of one other, and then have fun playing cards, acting, finger spelling, and performing visual vernacular. Husack says he encourages visual activities so it’s easy for members to have fun while gaining valuable practice.
“For some people, if they don’t have as many signing skills, [it’s helpful] to do more activities based in gesturing, like coming in character and signing like that,” he explains.
The club often selects a theme to make sure each meeting is different. On Halloween, members held a costume party where everyone dressed up and then signed what their costume was and why they were wearing it, in pursuit of a prize.
As of now, members haven’t had any discussions regarding the club’s future, but Husack is confident it will exist beyond the current year.
“I’m not sure how it will continue but hopefully there will be some Deaf students that can pass it on to the next group of Deaf individuals that take classes here,” Husack says.
“I’m not exactly sure what it will look like, but I’ll be here next year, so I’ll continue on.”
Husack says the club is open to anyone who’d like to improve their signing skills — and invites those interested to stop by F314 on Wednesdays.