“Hands on” with ASL

by Amea Hammonds

FM’s campus not only offers students the opportunity to learn American Sign Language, but also for the Deaf of the community to interact with these students.

Many students signed up to take ASL I and II this semester, with some put on a waiting list. Josh Barmen is a unique student, studying both ASL I and II during the same semester with a passion for ASL and the club.

“… I love the Deaf community and the welcoming feeling they give to ASL students. The Deaf community has impacted me to help bridge the gap between the Deaf and hearing communities. We can do this by breaking the language barrier and encouraging more people to learn the beautiful language of ASL,” Barmen said.

Photo by Catherine Hladik of Robert Collender teaching ASL I and II students during the Deaf chat on October 2.

“Each semester more and more students become eager to learn ASL and it is difficult to find room to accommodate them,” said Cheryl Schiemer during one of her classes.

Schiemer is not only an ASL professor at FM, but also a certified ASL interpreter, and is heavily involved in the Deaf community. She advises both the ASL club and Deaf Chats.

“FMCC ASL club’s mission is bridging the gaps between the Deaf and hearing worlds through American Sign Language. The only thing a Deaf person cannot do is hear,” Schiemer added.

Deaf chats are gatherings held on FM’s campus that allow students and the Deaf to come together and engage in conversation through ASL.

This semester, Deaf Chat has experienced the highest ratio between students and the Deaf. These meetings are held the first Friday of each month starting at 6pm at Mondo’s.

“I love staying long after most people are gone [at Deaf Chat]. It has allowed me to get one on one time with Deaf people and shows me what Deaf culture is really like. I loved it,” said ASL I student Aliyyah Thomas.

Tutor Emmillee Phillips assists students who need extra help with ASL and is a support system for them to get through this semester successfully.

“Going to a peer for help makes them feel more at ease. I have seen only a few people come to both tutoring and the club meetings. After they leave, there is just a small amount of confidence that they are able to accomplish this. That confidence is why I became a tutor,” said Phillips.

The club is growing, as is the amount of students interested in learning American Sign Language. The club meets every Monday and Thursday at noon in room C-108.

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