By: Kebron Tesfaye, Contributing Writer
Students from the American Sign Language Club invited people of all sign language abilities to come together and assess their non-verbal communication skills in Patuxent Bistro as part of a festival that’s been in the planning stages since the fall, on Saturday, April 30.
“We’re bringing awareness about the deaf community to Towson,” ASL Club President Brittany Martin said.
The event provided an opportunity for hearing students to learn more about deaf culture as well as American Sign Language.
“The deaf community knows about Towson University because we have a deaf studies major here,” event coordinator Khera Colbert said. “There’s not a huge deaf community or deaf presence on Towson’s campus, so we wanted to bring that to Towson and get students of different majors aware so they can come and learn sign language.”
The event featured an altered version of the classic game Jenga. Although the game is usually played with light wooden bricks, the wood used for these bricks was rough and large. These specific bricks were chosen to create loud vibrations on the ground when the wood fell.
“For people who have not seen sign language, to come in and see hands flying everywhere signing can create those somewhat uncomfortable situations where you’re not sure how to communicate,” Martin said. “But then you figure out and learn along the way.”
To increase funding for the ASL club, members sold shirts and candy as well as raffle tickets. A table display illustrated the historical background of deaf studies and sign language.
Many students, parents and friends who attended the festival said that they enjoyed and learned from the events.
“I’m learning a lot,” junior Akeem Roberts said. “It could do well for our major because we’re both health care management majors, so there’s a good chance that we’ll run into a few deaf people in our career.”
“I think it’s important to learn because people don’t count this as a language,” Roberts’ friend Lydia Johnson added. “I didn’t expect that there would be music. I’d expected that there would be more visual stuff, but there’s music and things that deaf people cannot hear.”
The ASL club felt that the event was a success and is looking forward to doing more fun, community-building events in the future.
“As a club, we realized that we didn’t have a fun event to look forward to every year, so this was our way of doing that and giving back to the deaf community,” Martin said.