Students form club to learn about American Sign Language

Students form club to learn about American Sign Language

When first-year Zoe Lacey graduated from high school, she was excited to continue taking American Sign Language (ASL) courses in college. Upon arriving at Trinity, however, Lacey realized there were no ASL classes to be found. 

Instead of getting out of practice, Lacey decided to start her own club in Nov. 2017. The club has already brought in 40 people within the last few months. In the future, she hopes to have enough rallying for ASL that a professor is hired and a class is made in the modern languages and literatures department for people to major in or just take classes. 

“It’s just a really fun language,” Lacey said.

As a volunteer at a therapeutic horse riding ranch, Lacey worked with multiple children who used sign language as their primary mode of communication. Now at Trinity, she is hopes to keep up her skill and educate others on the importance of ASL.

First-year Danielle Clark, the vice president of the club, attended high school with Lacey and was excited to learn the language. Junior Vlad Chalenkov, the club’s social coordinator, gained his ASL knowledge from high school in the North Eastern Independent School District. He spoke about his experience with ASL and coming to Trinity.

“I was pretty fluent by the end of my four years and I didn’t want to just make that go to waste,” Chalenkov said. 

When asked their favorite words to sign, each member of the club has a unique response. Lacey enjoys signing the word “soda pop” because the gesture requires making a popping sound. Chalenkov’s favorite is “woodpecker” because, although there is no official sign for it, the word is typically signed with a pecking gesture to an open palm. Clark loves the word “spell” because the gesture looks like magic.

Rocio Delgado, the ASL club’s academic advisor and associate professor of education, discussed her thoughts on the club.

“I grew up speaking Spanish in Mexico, and when I came to college in the United States I was advised not to take ASL as my foreign language because it wasn’t a ‘true language.’ … When I met Zoe, I was excited about the possibility of practicing my signing again and sharing that knowledge with others. Through the club, we hope to continue to educate the Trinity community about ASL and users of the language,” Delgado said. 

Delgado also hopes to create more ways for Trinity students to learn about and interact with the local deaf community in San Antonio. There are many individuals with different degrees of hearing loss, and their stories deserve to be heard. 

To get involved with the ASL club, email [email protected]. They welcome all levels of knowledge in ASL, and if you have no experience, they are happy to teach you. Their next general meeting is Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in Northrup 314. They will be conversing with each other in sign language and teaching each other common phrases. People from the deaf community in San Antonio are holding an ASL coffee meeting on Feb. 23 at Local Coffee in the Pearl at 7 p.m.