High School to Offer ASL Club Next Year

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A tattoed hand doing the sign “I love you”

The American Sign Language (ASL) class is a language and culture classroom, with the deaf-of-hearing having a culture of their own. Not many people know about it because they often assume they only have American culture and can’t hear well.

“I teach grammar, the culture and the language itself, with a lot of hands-on-deck projects and trying to get the students to immerse,” ASL teacher Johnna Williams said.

The ASL classes are full of students wanting to take the course and learn a new language to communicate better with those in the deaf community, the club will be an extra opportunity for those students. It will be held once a month in the morning and afternoon, with Zoom meetings also available.

“We’ll be starting an ASL Club next year, and that’s gonna be for the ASL classes, which are full this year. More students are wanting to take the course and I’m out of space in the classroom,” Williams said. “It’ll allow students who want extra help outside of class, and those who physically can’t be in class have the opportunity to come together once a month and do little short sign language lessons with short cultural lessons in the club.”

COVID-19 proves to be a continued challenge for those with loss of hearing, many in the hard-of-hearing community rely on lip-reading and hearing aids, but, until recently, strict guidelines require mask-wearing, difficulties can arise when it comes to wearing hearing aids and communicating.

“A huge part of the hard-of-hearing community rely on lip-reading, and this year it’s really hard to tell with people’s facial expressions with half their face covered,” junior Kora Clark said. “So, now if someone is upset, they won’t be able to tell.”

Before COVID-19, pep rallies would be assembled every 6 weeks, and all the students would be gathered to share laughs, sing and recite the pledge of allegiance, and student council hosting mini-games for the students but, the pep rallies for this year has been canceled due to social distancing. So, instead, students in the ASL would sign the Pledge of Allegiance for a daily grade rather than signing for the whole school during the pep rallies.

“This year, students who are in ASL haven’t been able to perform the Pledge of Allegiance mostly because of COVID-19, and especially with the pep rallies being nonexistent,” junior Brenna Ingle said. “Before social distancing, it was a struggle getting students into the auditorium. So mostly, Mrs. Williams will have the students sign the Pledge of Allegiance and grade it 10 points and say, “Good job, you did it.”

Despite her learning disability, junior Dylan Knoll has coped with the required masks mandate and tries her hardest to communicate without seeing facial expressions. But Dylan strongly agrees that sign language should be one of the first studies everyone should learn; it can give everyone an effective way to engage with those around them.

“I believe sign language should be one of the first studies someone should learn because if you have a friend who is hard-of-hearing and can’t hear what the other friend is saying, it’ll be difficult,” Knoll said. “Your friend would tell you what happened later but they don’t know how to sign. I think everyone should learn sign language so people with hard of hearing could join in the laughs as well.”

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