The Emory & Henry Signs club has continued with meetings during our online state. The E&H Signs club meets once a week to communicate and learn American Sign Language with one another.
The E&H Signs club has meetings every Monday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. over Zoom. The club advisor is Dr. Amanda Romjue, but the main leader of the lessons is the president of the club, Chase Poulsen. Most meetings are usually relaxed. “It’s total non-pressure and easy to pick up,” Poulsen said when asked about the nature of the club. Members do a review at the beginning of what they have learned before continuing the meeting.
There is no set curriculum for the club; meetings started with the basics like the alphabet, numbers, and family members. Members can also be leaders of lessons if they want, if someone found a sign that they found interesting or just thought that other members should know, they would learn it together.
Their meeting on the 12th wasn’t their usual meeting. There was a guest speaker, Dr. Anita Fisher. Dr. Fisher used to be an interpreter, but now she is an ASL teacher to hearing kids, but she does still interpret occasionally. Dr. Fisher mainly talked about her experience as an interpreter and teacher and talked about possible job opportunities for people who are fluent in ASL. Besides talking about her experience, Dr. Fisher also taught the club some rules and grammar and even showed the club some words that they would use more often like “cool” or “whatever.”
COVID has caused a lot to change on campus and the changes extend to club meetings as well. Before with in-person meetings, a lot of people would drop in on a signs meeting and watch, to see how meetings go and how the members interact. Now since everything is done virtually, it is fewer conversations and more practice. This has had a small impact on how many members joined the club.
Before the pandemic, the club would typically have around 12 to 14 members per meeting and now they have about 8 to 10 attending their meetings. With everything going virtual, there have been more schedule conflicts with sports, classes, and other activities. The club does send out polls to their group members to get the best meeting times for their members. With Zoom calls, there comes a lot of technological problems. There can be cameras lagging, causing members to have a harder time interpreting signs because of a blur. Or there are problems with signing online, as some signs require you to do them in the face region where others require them to be at level with your chest to ensure that they have the correct meaning. This can cause members to have to tilt their cameras back and forth to make sure their signs are being interpreted correctly.
The E&H Signs club is still accepting new members. Poulsen said that the E&H Signs club is just about “keeping the love for ASL alive and not putting it to the side.” New members can drop in any time they want and a google doc of terms that members have learned to sign is kept and meetings are recorded for members who have missed.