Kean’s American Sign Language (ASL) Club is an organization that seeks to educate the campus on the visual language and culture of the Deaf community. The group both helps students develop in their ASL abilities and hosts Deaf and ASL-themed events throughout the year.
Rhys Martignetti, a sophomore speech language pathology major and ASL minor, has been the club’s director of public relations for a year and has been involved with the overall club for two years. She joined the club due to the interest and passion she developed for ASL at a young age.
“My fascination with American Sign Language has been since I was a kid. When I was little, I lived at an apartment complex and my friend’s sister signed ASL. Ever since learning from her, I’ve always wanted to learn more,” Martignetti said. “Once I got into Kean and declared my major and minor, I joined the ASL club to learn not only more sign language, but also about Deaf culture, as well as connect with new friends that were interested in the same things as me.”
Martignetti describes the club’s mission as one part learning and teaching and another part elevating consciousness.
“The ASL Club’s mission is to educate and spread awareness to members on the culture and language of the Deaf and hard of hearing by being proactive in the local Deaf community, participating in and hosting Deaf and ASL-related events and supporting members' ASL skills development and their learning of ASL at Kean,” Martignetti said.
Apart from Martignetti, the club’s executive board includes President Jianna Pisa, Treasurer Symone Gelay and Secretary Lillie Barber. The organization meets on the third Thursday of each month, and these meetings can include the discussion programming or focus on the refining of ASL proficiency.
“During the meetings we discuss our future Deaf events as well as learn vocabulary and classifiers. We also discuss Deaf culture,” Martignetti said.
The largest upcoming event to be hosted by the ASL Club is a comedy show by Trix Bruce. Trix Bruce tell stories through ASL with an artistic flair. This event will be taking place April 26 at 5 p.m. in the Miron Student Center (MSC) Little Theatre.
Through the ASL Club, Martignetti believes that students can gain not only a higher level of ASL knowledge, but also a community of like-minded peers.
“Not only can students learn about Deaf culture and ASL, but they can connect with peers that are interested in the same topics as them. The ASL Club goes to events as a group and learns a lot of things we didn’t know before,” Martignetti said.