By Lucy Ruscitto | Staff Writer
The Baylor American Sign Language Club will host its second “Striding for Signing” 5K, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday starting at the Baylor Sciences Building Fields and continuing on to the Bear Trail.
Check-in for the race is at 9 a.m., and registration costs are $10 for adults, $5 for 12-year-olds or younger and an additional $5 to bring your dog. Registration will still be open the morning of the event.
Sherman senior LaVonda Lewis, president of the Baylor ASL Club, said the main goal of this 5K is to gain more sponsors in the Waco area, as well as to gather beginning funds for their main fundraising event held later on in the semester.
“The 5K is a fundraiser for another event that we host in April, called ‘Open Light Night,’” Lewis said. “[It’s] a spin on open mic night. It’s basically poetry storytelling and it’s all done in sign language.”
Weatherford senior Erika Corsair, Vice President and event coordinator of Baylor ASL, said that last year’s 5K “came together pretty well. We’re trying to improve upon that.”
The purpose of Baylor ASL Club’s is self-described as to promote unity, diversity and cultural awareness of deaf and hard of hearing individuals, their language, and culture on the Baylor University campus as well as to provide opportunities for students to increase their knowledge and experience with American Sign Language.
Lewis said she believes the presence of ASL at Baylor is prevalent, but still not as impactful as it has the potential to be.
“The minors here [in ASL] are accessible for some, not all,” Lewis said.
Lewis and Corsair said they believe that because ASL isn’t considered a “foreign language” and more of a “modern language,” students who aren’t directly affected by it in their field of study can take it, but will not receive core credit.
“It’s just kind of hard when you’re a student and it’s like, ‘Oh, I can take this but you’re not going to give me credit for it,’” Lewis said.
Corsair said the one argument she could think of for ASL not being an accredited “language” at Baylor is because of the dialects being different everywhere in the world. Corsair said this point can be made about all languages.
“It all changes no matter what language you’re talking about, because it depends on which region of that country you’re from, because everyone speaks it differently,” Corsair said. “I think it’s really, really disappointing that they don’t accept it as a language. I don’t know why.”
Lewis said that oftentimes, the opposition to the integration of ASL as an official “language” is that people are uneducated.
“They’re uninformed. And they often think that ASL is just foolish when on your hands, that each sign has the English equivalent and that’s not the case,” Lewis said.
After the 5K, Corsair said, she wants students to walk away with a better understanding for ASL.
“Just a realization that you can communicate with anyone, no matter what kind of culture, language, no matter what background, because there’s always a way,” she said. “Especially with ASL, because you don’t even have to be proficient in the language, and gestures help,” she said.
Both Corsair and Lewis said they advocate for ASL and can personally relate to the language, because of their passions for communication as well as strive to make it known that it is worthy of being educated about.
“I really enjoy signing, learning sign language and being able to communicate with people. [ASL] made me realize that… everybody in the world has some form of interlocking, some form of relation that they can find a way to relate to everyone,” Lewis said.
Corsair said she respects and loves ASL because of the possibilities it presents to have open communication with all kinds of people.
“When you talk to any physician or any medical somebody in the medical field, they use deafness as just not a good thing,” Corsair said. “It’s actually another opportunity to give language and communication for within your family and with other people. It’s just another avenue to connect to people that you love.”