ASL Club


Lily Beeson-Norwitz graphic.

By Kira Chan and Lainie Pennington

The American Sign Language (ASL) Club returns to Cleveland under the direction of senior Will Tsai. Meeting every Monday at lunch in room 384, the club hopes to teach sign language and provide a community for the deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Cleveland.

“I am happy about this new ASL club,” said junior and deaf student Jaden Lee. “Maybe it will be fun and more people will want to come over and talk with our deaf group in our classes.”

The ASL Club is open to any students interested in learning sign language or improving upon their prior knowledge. It also aims to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing students a place to communicate with each other and hearing students.

The club has faded in and out of the Cleveland community, and this year the club is being initiated by senior Will Tsai, Sara Outcalt, and deaf and hard-of-hearing students. “Hopefully it will help create friendships and foster inclusion,” said Outcalt, transition support and classroom teacher for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

The club was initially started by Tsai’s older sister, Naomi, when he was in his freshman year. After two years of the club being dormant, Tsai wanted to pick it up again. His family background was a major drive for him to continue the club.

“I have a deaf father, so this is my connection to ASL and to the deaf community. I’m not an extremely big part of the deaf community, but I kind of know what goes on, and a lot of the time it feels like deaf people kind of get forgotten,” he said.

Tsai said that the club plans to teach ASL at a slow pace. “I think I’m going to start off gradual and start with the alphabet. It’s nice that you can teach individual signs and stuff; what’s hard is putting them together to have an actual conversation.” He hopes that the club will give hearing students the confidence to communicate with the deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

“I feel happy about meeting new friends. I am happy people are fascinated to learn ASL. I want my friends to come to ASL club because I want more communication,” said sophomore and deaf student Melissa Carrasco-Casillas.

With the introduction of the club, Outcalt hopes that it will influence students to interact with their deaf peers more. “I encourage students to approach the deaf students and try to communicate with them. Even a simple smile and wave would mean a lot to them. They want to feel connected to people just like everyone else,” Outcalt concluded.