By Alexandria Waldron
For the first time in Cal Poly Pomona history, an American Sign Language club has been established on campus.
The American Sign Language Club had its first official meeting in February of this year. Up until then, Mt. San Antonio College had the only American Sign Language programs and classes in the area.
“For me, it’s a relief that this club is now on campus,” said ASL Club President Angelo Canico Ricasata. “We are now able to finally get our message out about American Sign Language.”
Ricasada is a fourth-year architecture student at CPP who is deaf. He was an active member of the ASL Club at his high school and was disappointed when he found out that CPP had yet to establish the club on campus.
“There are a lot of orally deaf students here on campus and it is usually overlooked,” said Ricasata. “That is what causes the awkwardness between the two parties.”
The percentage of deaf students on campus is small compared to other colleges in the area, but it was frustrating for those students who are studying here due to the lack of accommodations to meet their needs.
“We want to treat this club as a nice gesture to the hearing people that they are welcome to learn our language,” said Ricasata.
American Sign Language was created to bridge the gap of communication between the hearing world and the deaf world, which is also the main purpose of the club. The members want to encourage the hearing population of CPP to become educated about the deaf culture on campus.
“The way we are approaching the American Sign Language [club] was to be a little more informal instead of a rigid teaching approach,” said Ricasata. “This will hopefully cut down on the miscommunication and misconceptions between the hearing and the deaf.”
A majority of the current ASL Club members at CPP are new to American Sign Language, but are interested in learning and exploring this new skill that could be beneficial to them in their future careers.
During the ASL Club meetings, members learn basic signs, proper signing etiquette and play games to enhance their skills.
“The more people learn about the signs and etiquettes, the easier it will be for both parties to communicate,” said Ricasada.
Ashley Bracken, a third-year kinesiology student, became a member of the ASL Club when the club was created in winter quarter.
“I was surprised that a big university didn’t have a sign language class or a club,” said Bracken. “When I saw the flyer last quarter, I contacted the president immediately to join.”
Bracken took three years of American Sign Language classes in high school and was vice-president of the ASL Club at Victor Valley Community College before she transferred to CPP this year.
From her previous experience, Bracken said she has several ideas on how to promote the newly founded ASL Club on campus.
“At my old school, we would have bake sales and make t-shirts to raise money for disability scholarships,” said Bracken. “Because deaf students don’t qualify for disability.”
CPP does offer disability services for the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as a sign language interpreter, but none of those staff members are involved with the new ASL Club.
Since the ASL Club formed late in the school year, they haven’t put on any events yet but are planning ahead for the upcoming year.
“I’m hoping the American Sign Language Club continues to be successful in the future,” said Ricasata.
The American Sign Language Club meets on Tuesdays during U-Hour in Building 5.
New club on campus promotes Sign Language
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