American Sign Language Club helps bring awareness to deaf community on campus

The American Sign Language Club at Utah Tech puts on events and attends events within the deaf community. More than a half-million people use ASL to communicate as their native language. This means that learning ASL could create an inclusive atmosphere for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Mia Tom | Sun News Daily

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Babies as young as 6 months old learn how to sign short signs such as “milk” and “more.” As college students, the ability to absorb and learn more signs is immeasurable. 

Over 150 students are signed up to receive updates about the American Sign Language Club at Utah Tech University. The club leaders support its members by using patience and enthusiasm to teach each student the basics of ASL. Within the club, members communicate by signing the language to each other. 

“We love the members of the deaf community, and we want to help others learn to communicate with them by providing a place for them to start,” said Allyson Hamilton, the ASL program’s director. “Deaf people can’t learn to hear, but you can learn to sign.”

Hamilton came to Dixie State University in 2014. She began working on the ASL/English Interpreting Degree. In the past five to seven years that this club has been active, they have hosted and attended many events on campus.

One of those events was the Trailblazer Village during Homecoming Week, in which the club had a booth and had people spin a wheel. Whatever football-related word they landed on, the club members would teach the correlating sign to them. 

Hamilton said, “We try to participate in as many events as we can on campus, and we have a few service projects that we help with at the Deaf Center just up the street from the university.” 

Another event was a Halloween movie party where the ASL club hosted a party and had treats to pass out as well as an interpreter for the movie “Halloweentown.”

Ciara Bush, one of the club leaders, said: “We are able to make announcements in the classes for events coming up, and most of our teachers are also our advisers. They are a huge help in getting the word around for events and service projects that we participate in.”

The ASL club’s Instagram has many updates throughout each month, one of which is announcing events and social events that are coming up. The club has monthly socials where they get together to enjoy entertainment and food as well as learning opportunities that allow them to get involved in the deaf community.

Members of this club participate in various service projects. With the help of the club as well as the ASL classes offered on campus, the club members and students in the program have been able to make a difference by helping interpret as well as offering more socialization opportunities for those within the deaf and signing community.

With the Deaf Center being so close to campus, the ASL club chose to work closely with them and host a few of their events as well as attend the Deaf Center’s annual Trunk-or-Treat. This has helped the club to be more widely known throughout the community, not just at Utah Tech.

Club member Bryn Kint, a junior digital film major from St. George, said: “The club fosters a sense of community. It is a place to practice our skills and socialize with the signing community.”

The club gives any level of signers a chance to communicate with the deaf and signing community. This club is looking to grow and offer this chance to as many students who are willing to learn.

Hamilton said, “When we are together, we sign and communicate in the language, and it always turns heads.”