“We have activities planned for everyone who wants to learn more about our language, culture, and ETSU’s ASL minor program itself,” said Stephanie Horvath, assistant professor.
Deaf Awareness Week at ETSU will launch on Saturday, Sept. 18 with ASL Night at ETSU’s home football game against Delaware State University. Football game attendees are invited to come to sign, socialize and watch the game together.
“We have deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing community members in Johnson City who will be at the game to connect to ETSU,” said Horvath.
On Monday, Sept. 20 from 8-9 a.m., there will be a Coffee Chat outside of the Starbucks in the D.P. Culp Student Center. Horvath, who is also an advisor for the Silent Bucs organization, will be there to provide a space for ASL students and their peers to practice signing outside of the classroom and to build relationships among ASL students.
On Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 1-3 p.m., anyone who is interested in learning more about the ASL minor is invited to come to the ASL booth located on the University Commons. As one of the newest minors in ETSU’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, the ASL program currently has 75 students who have declared the minor and 145 students enrolled to learn ASL.
Finally, on Thursday, Sept. 23, there will be an ASL Game Night from 5-6 p.m. in the Cave, located in the Culp Student Center. Following game night, organizers will host a “Deaf-Owned Business Spotlight” event with SquareGlow by Angela Dawson from 6-7 p.m. in the Culp Center’s room 303/304.
“Our ASL minor provides the opportunity for students to gain a new language that will benefit their career,” Horvath said. “Also, we want to grow more by providing jobs for deaf and hearing faculty members who want to serve our students. This means we can grow our allyship with the community where our students can become deaf educators, interpreters, business owners, health care providers, and any other field where they can use the American Sign Language to support deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing students and adults.”
The Deaf Awareness Week activities at ETSU are organized by the Silent Bucs student organization, with support of the ETSU Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Silent Bucs is a student organization made up of deaf and hearing students who spread awareness of ASL and deaf culture by providing events and language mentoring for students who need support with learning ASL.
In addition, ETSU began the first ASL Honor Society for high school and college students in the state of Tennessee. Students who meet the criteria are invited to join the honor society and can commit to service hours while maintaining GPA requirements that allow them to earn cords (high school students) or medals (college students) upon graduation.
“Our students can earn a medal that shows their outstanding academic work, commitment to the deaf community and ETSU through service and raising awareness of deafness and deaf-related issues,” said
Ann Marie Gilger, assistant professor and sponsor of the ASL Honor Society.
To learn more about ETSU’s ASL program, visit www.etsu.edu/crhs/aslp/sign-language.php.