SDSU American Sign Language club informs campus about deaf community

by Chandler Atkins, Contributor

The American Sign Language club is open to all San Diego State students to help spread awareness about the deaf community and culture.

Public Relations Officer Joseph Gill has been in the ASL club since last fall and has seen a tremendous growth in the club’s campus presence.

“We have a lot more community outreach from tabling at diversity events and speaking to various classes about what we are all about,” Gill said.

Although joining the ASL club is a way for students to broaden their horizons, many have misperceptions about deaf culture that hinders them from reaching out.

American Sign Language professor Janette Dorricott said the false assumption that people who cannot hear are depressed causes a huge separation between the deaf and hearing communities.

According to the Deaf Counseling Center, a company focused on providing equal therapy to deaf individuals, “being deaf itself is not the cause of depression.”

“The medical viewpoint that being deaf is a negative and needs to be fixed is completely false,”  ASL President Amanda Miller said. “The deaf community sees being deaf as a positive, and their life is not hindered but made richer because of it.”

With an invisible wall separating the hearing and deaf community, understanding the latter can be challenging, especially when the former believes they can’t take action due to their inability to sign, Dorricott said.

“Coming into it, I wasn’t sure if you had to be proficient in ASL, but when I showed up I realized they speak as well as sign. Anybody can join, and you don’t have to know ASL to be a part of the club,” said new member and freshman women’s studies major Kate Fahy.

The ASL club is hosting Music for My Eyes, a collaborative performance of visual art, on Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. in the Goldberg Courtyard in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.

The club’s executive board members hope to foster communication between the hearing and deaf community to ultimately disassemble the invisible barrier separating the two.

The ASL club holds meetings Wednesdays at the Starbucks courtyard in the Conrad Prebys Student Union at 4:00pm, as well as social gatherings Thursday’s at 7 p.m. inside Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Company on campus.