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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

ASL embraces deaf culture

The room is silent, apart from a scattering of excited laughter, as senior co-presidents Sarah Deva and Sara Elzeiny’s hands fly up simultaneously, their hands forming the phrase “How are you feeling?” Nodding and smiling, around 20 students swiftly respond with their own signals.

The American Sign Language (ASL) club, founded this year by Deva,  aims to teach students ASL and increase awareness about the deaf culture.

“[Deaf people] have turned something [that] can be considered a disability into something really beautiful,” said Deva.
Deva became interested in learning sign language through watching ABC’s hit TV show “Switched at Birth” and quickly became fascinated with the way ASL’s graceful movements. She then enrolled in ASL classes at West Valley.

“It’s not just a language, it’s a language where you can move your hands,” Deva said. “[It’s] like linking movement and language together.”

The club holds meetings on Tuesdays in room 501 and Deva has already begun to teach members how to sign the alphabet and express emotions through signals. Ultimately, club members hope to be able to converse in basic ASL.

During meetings, members review signs they learned the previous week, go through demos and work together to improve their skills. A PowerPoint slideshow prepared by the officers teaches the members the new signs and concepts.

Senior Constanza Bravo, who joined ASL club, said she appreciates the way officers Deva and Elzeiny use group activities to further the knowledge of sign language in the club members.

“If you have a question, you just go to them and they show you more about the sign language,” Bravo said. “They also make you sign everything you learn, which is really interesting.”

Eventually, as club members grow more confident in the language, they plan to attend events for the deaf and learn more about ASL and the culture it has created. According to Deva, who has already attended several of events for the deaf, it provides students with a way of immersing themselves into the culture.

“There are so many different people you meet and they all have interesting stories that you want to learn about,” Deva said. “It was eye opening for me to learn about so many cool new life stories, signs and people.”

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