During my sophomore year at PhilaU, I found out that we had recently added an amazing club on campus: American Sign Language club. After I attended my first meeting, I knew I was in for an amazing experience because of the President, freshman (now sophomore RA) Fashion Design major Anna Kipp. Anna has a big heart for people in general and an even bigger heart for the American Sign Lanugage (ASL) community. On how she got involved with ASL, Anna said “I took ASL as a foreign language in high school and fell in love with the language. I received three full years of the study of ASL.” When she first started learning a foreign language in middle school, Anna originally took Spanish, as ASL was not offered at the time. After her third year of Spanish, she was able to transfer to ASL. Anna explains that “it was much more interesting to learn, and easier for me to study because I am more of a visual learner.”
Not only does Anna love ASL, but she is very passionate about the community and she does not stand for misconstrued stereotypes. When I asked her what is the biggest misconception about the ASL community that she has noticed, she said “when people don’t consider ASL to be a language. Many states don’t count Sign Language as a language because it has no written form, but it is still a language with its own syntax and grammar.” Anna also finds that once people come to understand ASL and what that means exactly, they tend to be more accepting. She added “with that being said, not everyone is all that willing to accept the Deaf community and ASL. I have had people give me weird and angry looks when I was signing in public with a friend, proving that not everyone is willing to be so friendly with people who are different, or perceived as different.”
I also had Anna explain to me the difference between ASL and Pidgin Signed English (PSE). She said that “ASL and PSE are very similar, except for ASL is a language whereas PSE is a signed system that was originally invented to help the deaf learn English. PSE uses ASL signs, but the English word order, whereas in ASL the word order goes topic and then comment.”
Lastly, I asked Anna what she would like to tell the world about this community, and she said “the Deaf community is filled with wonderful people who are just like everyone else. Being deaf doesn’t make them any less of a person.” A great example of this is Nyle DiMarco, from America’s Next Top Model. Nyle is deaf, but that did not stop him from winning Top Model and Dancing with the Stars. Those in the Deaf community are just like us and they can do almost everything we can do, so they should be treated as such.
If you would like to join the American Sign Language Club here at Philadelphia University, meetings are at 12:30pm on Thursdays. Feel free to send Anna an email at: email@example.com