Co-Presidents Rachel Kirchner, a fourth-year in molecular genetics and biochemistry, Kendra Madaris, a fourth-year in biology and Dejon Clark, a fourth-year in neuroscience, pose at the Deaf-Hearing Club’s inaugural meeting on Aug. 24. Credit: Courtesy of Deaf-Hearing Club

There’s a new, one-of-a-kind student organization on campus, and it’s a good sign for the deaf community.

The Deaf-Hearing Club had its inaugural meeting on Aug. 24 and is currently the only student organization specifically for American Sign Language and hard-of-hearing students offered at Ohio State.

This marks the first sign language club on Ohio State’s campus since the departure of the ASL Club following the graduation of the organization’s leadership group in 2015, Tia Jones, interim director and instructor for the ASL program at Ohio State, said.

Jones said a student presence for the deaf and sign language community is incredibly significant.

“This is a student-run organization. They came to us wanting to establish the club, so they took it upon themselves, and I think that says a lot for how they feel about the deaf community, the signing community and wanting to be a part of it,” Jones said.

The objective of the club is to bring together the sign language community on campus and across central Ohio, Rachel Kirchner, the club’s co-president and a fourth-year in molecular genetics and biochemistry, said.

“The overarching goal of the club is to facilitate a stronger connection between hearing cultures and deaf cultures,” Kirchner said. “At least on campus, it’s not very apparent if we have deaf students or how many people do know ASL. So even just having events where we’re signing in public places so people are more aware of it is kind of the idea.”

The club members plan to achieve these goals through social activities and educational seminars, according to the club’s website. Some of the activities include visiting different restaurants around Columbus as a bonding experience, Kirchner said.

One of the restaurants the club plans to visit is Harry Buffalo in Westerville, Ohio, a sports bar that hosts ASL nights on the first Friday of every month. Kirchner said the event gives people in the deaf community and ASL speakers an opportunity to sign together.

The Deaf-Hearing Club takes the communication skills and history lessons learned in traditional ASL courses offered at Ohio State and applies them in a real-life setting, Kirchner said.

“Not only do we have normal events, but we also have events targeted to tutor kids who want to learn ASL,” Kirchner said.

There is no application process for admittance to the club, which regularly meets from 6-7 p.m. every other Wednesday in Enarson Hall Room 328. For more information, contact dhosu.2017@gmail.com.