Walking down the halls of Fruita, you may have seen posters with the sign language alphabet, or maybe you’ve seen advertisements for the sign language club or class. So what’s the deal?
American Sign Language, or ASL, is the form of sign language used in America that the deaf community uses to communicate. It has gained significantly more popularity at Fruita in recent years. There are ASL class, and an ASL club. Many students are getting involved in these activities for the benefits that they hold.
One benefit is the ability to be more inclusive. When you are able to communicate through ASL, you can now communicate with an entire part of a population that most people are not able to. A person that can communicate through ASL can have conversations with the deaf and hard of hearing. Many people in the deaf community often don’t have many people that they can talk with, and if you can use ASL you can include them.
Kylee Schad, a senior, is a big part of the ASL club and class. When asked why she joined, she said, “Well, because of the ASL teacher, Metz, and the ASL club president Mati Leckey, I’ve fallen in love with the culture and the people who are deaf or practice ASL. It really is a great community and language which deserves so much more recognition and to be more widespread around the country, and I really wanted to be apart of that outside of class, so I joined the club to meet new people through the clubs signing socials and meetings.”
American Sign Language can also help in the workplace. People that can speak more than one language (such as ASL) are significantly more likely to be given a job than the people that only speak one language. And in the job, if you have a deaf or hard of hearing coworker, you can help translate directions and assignments to them. People who can communicate through ASL are also able to assist deaf customers, which is a big group of people that many companies aren’t able to service.
A big goal of the class and the club is also to spread awareness of the problems with the lack of inclusivity with the deaf community. According to Deaf Unity, deaf people are less likely to be hired, and if they are hired, they are more likely to be paid less than the average hearing person.
There are also less educational opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing. There are very few schools for the deaf and in regular schools and classrooms, they have to have a translator in order to understand what the teacher is saying. There’s also fewer tutors for the deaf.
Klyee said, “It can present so many new social opportunities with the deaf community through signing socials and day to day run ins. Learning ASL can also help advance careers since ASL isn’t as commonly known as other languages such as spanish, employers love to hire ASL speakers because they have a more specialized skill. And most importantly, in my opinion, it gives hearing people the opportunity to bridge the gap and spread happiness and feelings of unity to everyone.”
Learning sign language can be an effective tool that allows you to communicate with a larger amount of people and to be more inclusive. The more people that learn ASL, the more inclusive our community can become.