PNW Pioneer

ASL Club contributes to sign language culture

Hannah G. Scheffer, junior communication major, learns sign language.

Hannah G. Scheffer, junior communication major, learns sign language.

Jenna Gloy

Jenna Gloy

Hannah G. Scheffer, junior communication major, learns sign language.

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Founded in 2005 with over 150 members, the American Sign Language Club promotes awareness of deaf culture and exposes students to the deaf community.

Karen Donah, ASL Club adviser, said she encourages all of her students to attend as many of the club events as possible.

After I became the club faculty adviser, we started holding our own events here on campus and in the community to encourage deaf people as well as hearing people to get together with our students for the purpose of bridging gaps in regards to communication,” Donah said.   

ASL Club has partnerships with local libraries, K-12 schools and the Northwest Indiana Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community for events.

ASL Club hosts annual events such as the spring fling, silence dinner and game night. Fundraisers and grants from Student Life and the Multi-Cultural Committee fund these events. Money donated to the cub from the dinners and events is given to the deaf community.

Brandy Porter, co-vice president of the club, said that she has watched the organization grow through allowing deaf people and students come together to communicate in sign language.

The club uses phone call meetings, WebEx and Skype so all members of the organization can meet together. The organization began at PNC. When the two campuses unified in 2016 the club was available on both campuses.

The organization won Best Departmental Organization of the Year at the Student Banquet on April 13. Porter said it was great for the organization to be honored.

“It is exciting to be recognized for the amount of activity and involvement we all do to promote ASL and engage with the deaf members of our community,” Porter said.

Hannah Scheffer, president of ASL club, said that ASL needs to be recognized as a language option for the communication course plan and hopes that with the win at the Student Banquet will help do that.

“The deaf community is tight-knit,” Scheffer said. “Having that acceptance feels amazing.”

Scheffer said she joined the club to push herself, have the benefit of being a part of a group and have the community and professional exposure that the organization gives each member.

“Everything we do should be benefiting deaf people in the community,” Scheffer said. “Try it out, experience a culture other than your own,” Scheffer said.

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