New sign language club hopes to connect students


Photo courtesy of AP Images

A high school teacher gives instruction to her class in sign.

Amaray Alvarez, Staff Reporter

There is a new club on campus that wants to help connect the College of the Desert student body.

The American Sign Language (ASL) club began this year and is led by professor Thomas O’Grady, and president Victoria Eye.

Eye started the club to break the barrier between the general student population and the deaf or hard of hearing community. She hopes members of the club can learn to communicate solely in ASL.

“Personally, I love ASL and really respect deaf culture and I hope our club can reflect this,” Eye told The Chaparral, “I think even knowing the basics of the language could help break down language barriers. If it were my choice, I would want ASL offered in more high schools.”

The timing of the club starting is significant because March 13 to April 15 is National Deaf Awareness Month. The ASL club held its first meeting on Thursday, March 5, at the Palm Desert campus.

Although there was a short notice that the meeting was going to take place, and a room mix-up happened, there was still a decent student turn-out.

Voting for the other in club officers was postponed to a future club meeting date.

On the COD website, the club’s mission states, “Our goal is to provide COD students with an opportunity to connect with other students who are interested in ASL and share experiences, engage in COD campus projects, programs and fundraising activities.”

Eye, however, stated that her mission for the club is she, “Hopes we can teach more people about deaf culture and offer a fun environment for students to socialize and possibly make new friends.”

With the recent closure of all schools and college campuses in Riverside County and no gatherings permitted with more than 10 people due to the coronavirus, the club will have to postpone future in-person meetings.

“Honestly, there isn’t much we can do because we still need to build up the club’s foundation,” said Eye, “In this time we can plan more activities and communicate with prospective club members about how the club will continue once COVID-19 is no longer a threat.”

If you are interested in joining the club, they are currently in the process of establishing social media accounts to help members stay engaged and create a community during this difficult time.
The club currently has an Instagram account @codaslclub.