ASL organization hosts deaf culture event for Halloween

Luke Akridge, 27, a WKU computer science major and web developer for WKU’s IT Department, attends an ASL costume party on Tuesday, October 25, 2016.

Kalee Chism

With Halloween coming up, there are festivities to get everyone in the community involved, including the Deaf Culture Event Halloween Party.

The Deaf Culture events allow students studying American Sign Language to expand skills and learn from advanced students as well as people within the deaf community, giving them an opportunity to understand more about deaf culture.

“We basically have different events that are completely voice-off so the students have to sign the whole time, and it’s kind of a good time for the students to practice outside class and get immersed in what deaf culture is,” Austin Rutland, Lexington senior and president of the ASL organization on campus, said.

The Halloween party Tuesday night included activities such as pin the boo on the ghost, Halloween bingo, coloring pumpkins and a costume contest. Deaf children and their parents from the Bowling Green community were also invited to come participate at the event.

“I know that especially for students, being an advanced student now, I can see how it’s helpful for the younger students because they get help from all of us,” Cincinnati junior Mariah Armstrong said. “But, also, it’s a place for everyone to meet people that are deaf that do live in Bowling Green and are around the community.”

The events aim to give students opportunities to practice signing; doing it with other people can make learning easier.

“I think it’s good exposure for learning new signs, and I interact with the deaf people, and Mariah and people who are in ASL three and four and can kind of show you the way,” Mount Washington junior McKenzie Perdue said.

Armstrong said she has learned about how deaf culture is different from the hearing community since learning sign language.

“A lot of people think it’s just ‘oh, they’re deaf, living in a hearing community,’ but they have so much stuff that’s just their own, and it’s been really cool to learn about that,” she said. “It’s neat to see other people realize that, too.”

Learning sign language is a skill that can be used anywhere, and it can be much more beneficial than many people expect, Rutland said.

Rutland said he hopes people can gain an understanding of deaf culture and how beneficial knowing ASL can be in life.

“I think it’s something that even if you just know a couple signs, whether you work in a school or in a restaurant, it’s something that you’re probably more likely to come across than you think and just knowing those couple words can make somebody’s day, and just being exposed to those things,” Perdue said.

Rutland said being involved in this organization, and its events have exposed him to people he would never had met, much less communicated with, had it not been for this program.

“I think a lot of people, they have misconceptions about the deaf community,” Rutland said. “Like, some people think that deaf people are less intelligent or illiterate or things like that, but they’re completely normal, and I’ve met some amazing people through ASL.”

Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].