BC ASL Club organizes Deaf Week picnic

In celebration of International Week of the Deaf, the Bellevue College American Sign Language Club organized a picnic at Kelsey Creek Park on Sunday, Sept. 24 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The theme of the 2017 International Week of the Deaf, as decided by the World Federation of the Deaf, was “Full inclusion with sign language.”
Lasting this year from Sept. 18 through Sept. 24, “International Week of the Deaf strives to promote the human rights of deaf people and highlight topics that merit attention,” according to the WFD.
ASL Club’s picnic was voice-off in order to coordinate with this year’s sign language theme. “Games, greetings and conversations were all held in ASL attended by Deaf and hearing people alike.
This picnic was geared to meet the needs of very new ASL students with only one week of experience. The idea was to introduce them to the fun that can be had with ASL outside of the classroom setting,” noted Rick Mangan, faculty advisor of ASL Club.
Picnic attendees learned how to sign their names in small groups and then formed a large circle where everyone signed their names using whole body movements. Participants learned how to sign numerous animals as well.
“People need to become more aware of ASL because it is a vital part of Deaf culture, as it is a primary language for a lot of people. It is also important to recognize that ASL is different from English in many ways, and is its own unique language, which isn’t common knowledge for many people outside of the community,” said Ashley Fowler, an event organizer and officer at ASL Club.
The mission of Bellevue College’s ASL Club is to create a resource for Deaf and hearing communities. They also make an effort to clear up misconceptions regarding Deaf culture by spreading awareness through events like the International Week of the Deaf picnic.
“American Deaf culture is a unique, rich culture that exists embedded within American culture, though it goes unnoticed or completely misunderstood by those who encounter it without experience,” said Mangan.
“It is a vital part of cultural competency, diversity and awareness to bring awareness of our Deaf brothers and sisters to the hearing community – thus celebrating diversity. Deaf people are a cultural minority, though they are assumed to be a group of ‘disabled’ people, that is not how Deaf people experience their Deafness – it’s a way of life, a culture, not a disability.”
Throughout the year, ASL Club has many different activities and events that help students get more involved in Deaf culture and ASL. “[They] also have movie nights, game nights, a book club, an ASL workshop, and even a comedy show coming up next month,” Fowler said.
In addition, Bellevue College has a number of ASL classes available to students on campus. For anyone interested in learning more about ASL Club and their events, email bellevuecollegeasl@gmail.com and visit https://studentweb.bellevuecollege.edu/asl/ for more information or reference the Bellevue College events calendar for specific dates of upcoming ASL events.