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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

American Sign Language Club brings awareness on campus

Silently speaking with the movement of their hands as their figures glide in an effortless transition from one word or phrase to another, the American Sign Language (ASL) club at Pierce College communicates as a group without speaking.

Although most people are used to the idea of verbally communicating with another the ASL club share how the visual language uses hand gestures, facial expressions and different body movements. The ASL club takes part in communicating with others by providing awareness of deaf culture and history.

“We just want to promote the students learning sign language and communicating with people and learning more about deaf culture,” said president of ASL club Zoe Harmala. “I want to get more people involved. More people aware. A lot of people don’t know about sign language, they don’t even know we have a club.”

Ultimately ASL’s goal is to increase awareness and gain support in order to grow and build a stronger community.

“In every campus not only in Pierce, deaf students are coming in and the percentage is growing higher and higher,” said ASL club member Cynthia Carrasco. “I’m a strong supporter in the deaf community and I believe as a hearing ally attending the clubs, fundraisers and volunteering not only will it help me but also help me with helping out the deaf community,” she said.

Club President, Zoe Harmala is a ASL interpreting student and became president of the club this year at Pierce College. She learned sign language years ago where she attended a deaf preschool where her teachers used sign. Her passion for ASL continued as she progressed through high school expanding her knowledge with sign language.

There is no argument that the ASL club at Pierce benefits the students. It’s an opportunity to augment and be more aware about ASL due to the increase of deaf students in the community. More students are now being assisted in college with interpreting programs as the club also provides a chance for all the deaf and hearing students to get together.

“It brings together hearing and deaf people that can share a language and community,” said Vice President of ASL Sierra Bownan.

“You can kind of understand how amazing they see things. How different they see things, how their culture is different and not only that, they aren’t any different than we are so when they’re describing things or explaining things to us you can envision what’s going on,” Carrasco said.

The American Sign Language has become significant not only to those who are deaf or hard of hearing but the club allows students to be aware of their surroundings.

“Occasionally on the job you’ll meet someone that needs to use ASL instead of something else,” Bownan said.  “Even working with children, autistic children sometimes use ASL instead of English or any other spoken language. Sometimes children with special needs use it.”

The ASL club wishes to increase recognition of sign language and welcome everyone to join.

Meetings are held on Wednesday’s at the Village 8210 from 3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. The ASL club page has a Facebook page and anyone interested in learning more about the club can send an email to club president Zoe Harmala at zharmala@gmail.com.

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