All signs point to a good time

Zachary Goldstein and Emily Greer sign the word “French” while playing a game during the American Sign Language meeting on Nov. 13, 2017. Photo: Brian Caldera

As the classroom fills up, not a word is spoken, yet the communication among these friends overflows the space with smiles, laughter and energy.

The American Sign Language Club allows students to have an open door to the deaf community. Students can learn about the culture and history in a space with those who know or are learning ASL, to socialize and use their language beyond a classroom setting.

ASL Club President Jennifer Brasuell said that the club is a safe space full of learning opportunities.

“We want to help them get their feet wet with entering the deaf community,” Brasuell said. “We all also want to improve; everyone in the club does. It’s a great socializing event, even for our more advanced members. It’s like an all inclusive way to benefit everyone involved.”

She said the club creates an atmosphere of inclusivity, where all students are allowed to take the floor and speak to each other about anything. The club serves to help students improve their understanding and use of the language.

Club meetings include games, challenges and storytelling to get an immersive experience of the signing, and to interact with other students who sign, are learning to sign or are interested in signing.

Lucy Roberts, a sign language interpreter major and ASL Club member, said that practice is important, because without it, you will lose the language.

“We create a foundation here for using the language in the real world,” Roberts said. “The best way to learn a language is to use it in a social environment, as opposed to just in a classroom repeating and repeating.”

The club has created a group on Canvas that lets members create discussion boards and ensures communication among members, where they can continue to socialize, organize future meetings and help each other learn.

ASL Club Vice President Zachary Goldstein said the club uses Facebook to post ASL video challenges. These videos tell a story, with progressive difficulty, so students can practice their comprehension at home and bring their translations to the club to gauge their understanding.

Goldstein said the club’s goal is to challenge and expand the members’ knowledge of the different uses of signs in their language.

The fall 2017 semester marked a new beginning for the club, and a new board took control at the beginning of the semester.

Goldstein said that new board members came into the semester without much knowledge of how to run the club. But he said they wanted to create a community for the school, where they can take students’ interest in ASL and make an environment of encouragement, where students can learn to sign, make friendships and grow with this community.

“Anyone would be welcomed, as long as there is a passion to do it,” Goldstein said.

The club had its Halloween Bash at Schoonerville Sports Bar and Grill in Canoga Park. The event was hosted there to coincide with the weekly ASL night every Thursday.

The ASL Club arranged entertainment for the event and assembled talent to perform karaoke. The event also included a costume contest and a performance by The Reynolds Twins, a duo of deaf drummers.

The Halloween Bash was the first official event hosted by the club, but members are updated about events happening in the deaf community.

“It’s a way to interact with not just students, but actual deaf people who actually use this language everyday, the natural users of it,” Roberts said. “You need to be able to speak to native signers to be able to really develop your language quickly.”

The club will host its next event on Nov. 30 and present a show put on by ASL Inside owner Missy Keist.

All students interested in the club can find more information by attending meetings on Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.