Signing Sleigh… Emma Delamore practices signing “Jingle Bells” in ASL. She learned how to sign sleigh and horse.
Signing Sleigh… Emma Delamore practices signing “Jingle Bells” in ASL. She learned how to sign sleigh and horse.
Riley Wootten

ASL club impacts Fairhope students

by Riley Wootten, reporter

American Sign Language Club [ASL club] teaches students to explore sign language and connect with people who deal with impaired hearing. 

ASL club was founded four years ago and currently has 91 members. The club is built around curiosity, not memorization, and was created to inspire students to learn a new language. 

In my adult life, I have met quite a few people who were deaf and while we managed to communicate through my little knowledge of ASL, slow fingerspelling and the use of phones to type out what we needed to communicate, I had always wanted to become more proficient in ASL,” said Amanda Lathem, ASL club sponsor.

Christmas caroling… Ashlyn Kunz and Laura Kenli Prince teach ASL club members how to sign “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” (Riley Wootten)

ASL members and officers are not fluent in sign but continue to learn more from this club. Understanding of ASL creates more opportunities to support and help the deaf community in any situation. 

“There is definitely still so much to learn about ASL but I feel that by participating in this club I continue to get better,” said President Ashlyn Kunz. 

ASL club brings fun into learning sign language by teaching students new and creative signs every month. These past few months ASL club has focused on holidays, verses and songs used in everyday life. 

Each time the students learn a new sign, they come back the next month and compete against each other to win. This is a fun and competitive way to influence students to practice new signs. 

“So far, we have learned Christmas carols, everyday signs, the alphabet and the National Anthem,” said sophomore Rowan Harrison. 

ASL is reflected in some students’ lives as they learn the language to communicate with friends and family. This club has enlightened students and has shone a light on how limited it is for deaf people to interact with those around them. 

“My sister is deaf and that is what influenced me to learn ASL because I wanted a way to be able to communicate with her and for her to understand what I was saying,” said junior Vice President Laura Kenli Prince. 

ASL club works within the Fairhope High community to support deaf students and influence others to learn sign language. December 13, ASL members [and anyone interested in participating] sang Christmas carols for Fairhope’s very own pre-k students. The club will also participate in the upcoming “Later Gator” virtual 5k to raise money for education of deaf students. 

ASL club actively participates in many service events, especially for the deaf. They continue to encourage students to get involved and put effort into understanding sign language. 

“I was inspired to join ASL because I wanted to learn how to communicate with deaf people and understand them more,” said sophomore Mia Garvas. 

While it is easy to forget that ASL is a language, just as English is, understanding sign language is such an important part of life and communication. Students have this opportunity to reach out to a language club and learn essential ASL skills, as they never know who in life may need a helping hand, no pun intended. 

As technology advances ASL is becoming more technologically efficient, including 5G-connected football helmets, hearing aids and infrared systems. Even with these advancements, it is important to learn sign language, the easiest and most efficient language for the deaf to communicate and understand.  

“When a student came to me five years ago and wanted to start an ASL club, I was super excited for Fairhope to have a place for students who are interested in learning sign language and learning about the deaf community to meet and learn together,” Lathem said. 

ASL club has brought in professional guest speakers to teach sign language. In the past two years Bethany Miller, Coordinator for the Deaf and Blind at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, has taught students introductory skills and the experience to learn professionally. 

ASL club impacts and teaches students. Serving as a club of students who want to learn ASL out of curiosity, friendship or family, it provides services for deaf students’ educations and allows hearing students to make an impact on people’s lives. 

Students looking for a way to get involved at Fairhope can join and learn ASL, its benefits and maybe make new friends and relationships.

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