According to the World Health Organization, about five percent of the world is deaf and therefore uses sign language as their main form of communication. Knowing American Sign Language is a useful skill to have in life because you never know when someone uses it as their main form of communication, and it could make their day to have someone else be able to communicate with them the way they know.
One perfect opportunity to learn more about American Sign Language is through Mercyhurst’s own American Sign Language Club.
Sophomore Fashion Merchandising major Megan Brady serves as the current president of the club and works alongside Learn-ing Differences coordinator and facilitator Andrea Obert.
Brady joined the club in her freshman year after taking sign language all through high school. This is her first year as president. “I had the privilege this year, as a sophomore to take over the club and be the president. I am so happy to give back and show others how passionate I am about this language. I want others to feel the same way I do,” Brady said.
Currently, the club is meeting every other Thursday starting at 7 p.m. on Zoom. While the meetings are not in person, club members can still turn their cameras on and interact with one another just like they would if they were face to face. At the start of each meeting, there is usually a review of the common signs needed to carry out a conversation.
At each meeting, one can expect to learn about 20 new signs. Anyone can join, including grad students and faculty members who want to learn sign language or just more about the deaf community.
“I always create a slideshow of a theme related to that meeting and I make sure to incorporate signing games, videos, interpreting songs, and learning about the Deaf culture into every meeting,” Brady said.
Due to the timing of the meetings this semester, they tend to fall right around a lot of holidays including Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter. The meetings occurring near those holidays will have a theme that relates to different topics involving the holidays.
Attendees can expect to learn new holiday signs to help keep them relate to what is going on at that point in the year. Brady spoke about her future goals for the club, saying, “I would love to get out beyond the gates to reach out to the Deaf community in Erie and hopefully in the future do a trip to attend a local Deaf event.”
There are multiple opportunities to become active with the new skills you have learned from the club. The next meeting is on Feb. 25. The club always enjoys seeing new faces at the meetings and would love to see new members who are interested in the deaf community at the next meeting!