With Happy Hands and Happy Hearts, a Sign Language Club Begins to Take its First Steps
By Devon Hall – Contributing Writer
The Happy Hands Sign Language Club is attempting to gain traction as their constitution is reviewed by the Student Senate. With many clubs already on campus, it can be difficult to create something new. Happy Hands plans to do just that with a club based on lessons in ASL as well as Deaf culture and grammar.
If approved, the club meetings will most likely begin with a discussion of any upcoming events being put on by the club or the Deaf community and then continue with a short lesson in ASL and some interactive practice in conversation. Meetings will most likely take place Thursday evenings.
Elizabeth (“Iggy”) Prescott, the hopeful President of the club, says she first noticed students’ interest in casually learning sign language while she was at summer experience. During the week, she participated in a talent show where she signed along to the song “This Is Halloween”.
“My original plan was to run the club like a class” said Prescott. “But then I figured that it wasn’t suitable for a bunch of students to try to go to another class”.
The club would most likely commence next semester if the constitution goes through. In order to introduce the community to ASL and advertise the club, Prescott plans to orchestrate signing events, during which any interested club members will sign along to songs ,“depending on how people take to it,” Prescott said.
In the event that Happy Hands is approved, club officials will be determined by vote. Prescott says the club currently has a pretty strong following.
“Most of the clubs I’ve been to have had 6 to twenty people” she said, “but there’s already thirty people in our Facebook group”.
Prospective secretary Emily Mokler, a Junior who recently transferred from SMCC, was introduced to ASL by Prescott during summer experience. “At mealtimes we chat and she teaches me words and phrases in ASL, which is really fun” she said.
Mokler says she mostly enjoys learning basic words and phrases, “so I could at least have a basic conversation.” She has enjoyed it all the more in learning with Prescott, since “there’s actually someone to sign back with!” Mokler also noted that she hopes learning ASL will help open doors and increase career opportunities down the road.
Learning sign language is not without its quirks, as Prescott admitted, “Sometimes when I’m tired, I start to sign when I’m talking”. Prescott says she also finds herself playing ASL fingerspelling games when she’s in the car, trying to spell words on street signs quickly before they pass her by.
Interested students can find out more by contacting Prescott or Mokler.