The University of Connecticut American Sign Language (ASL) Club showcased their annual Deaf Awareness Night in ITE C80 on Thursday night. The two-and-a-half hour event included a short play adaption of “Frozen,” an ASL cover of the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is The Love?” and a deaf magician duo, Magic Morgan and Liliana.
Every part of the night was constructed by the ASL Club, some members donning their club shirt with the sign for “I love you” (devil horns with the thumb out, like you would rock at an 80s punk show) on the pocket.
“Everyone here took the ASL 4 class,” Liv Stenger, an eighth-semester double major in English and speech, language and hearing (as well as the Daily Campus photo editor), said. “It was super stressful, but fun – the community for ASL is so small, so we’re all friends. It’s a good time.”
The night kicked off with the insanely impressive “Frozen.” In addition to the actors and actresses playing the familiar main characters (Elsa, Anna, Olaf, etc.) in ASL, offstage “doubles” spoke the lines as they were signed for hearing audience members. On top of that, the movie plot was drastically changed from a snow and ice fantasy tale to a down-to-Earth story about Elsa, who is deaf, and Anna, her younger hearing sister. Instead of pitfalls like uncontrollable ice powers, the sisters come across road bumps like an audiologist who suggests cochlear implants in lieu of ASL. The ice castle on the mountain that Elsa creates is changed into Gallaudet University, a federally chartered private university for deaf education.
The writers even sprinkled in some niche deaf community references – in the movie, the king and queen die while on a “sea voyage,” but in the ASL Club’s version, they die on their way to “a convention in Milan.” This may seem like a throwaway to the untrained ear (or eye), but it’s meaningful: The Milan Conference was the first international meeting of deaf educators in 1880 that passed the banning of ASL in school in favor of oralism (lip reading).
Annie Clark, a fourth-semester speech, language and hearing sciences major, played the role of Elsa.
“Tonight is important because it really shows others that this community exists,” Clark said. “The deaf community is spread out, most of the time. You meet maybe one or two deaf people, and you’ll say, ‘Oh, I can’t communicate with them.’ Nights like this really show that deaf people are here, they’re in our society, they’re human just like anyone else, and they have this really amazing language they use to communicate. If everyone just learned the ABCs, people could communicate with them too. They’re people, and they deserve a good conversation.”
The ASL Club meets every other Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Oak 106. Keep your eyes open for the next meeting. ASL skills aren’t required to attend.
Daniel Cohn is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.