ASL Initiative stays busy with online activities

The AUS ASL Initiative team gathers in the Community Services Office for a weekly ASL learning session last semester (COURTESY PHOTO).

By Apoorva Dudani

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – The American Sign Language Initiative at American University of Sharjah continues to be active, with online activities held this semester and more sessions planned for spring 2021, according to President Habiba Darwish. 

The undergraduate student said that the team hopes to continue to bring awareness about the history and culture of ASL and connect with organizations and other initiatives in the UAE that shed light on the local deaf community.

Darwish stated that the group has planned several highly requested workshops teaching ASL for next semester 

“Our last workshop in September this year was a great success and the feedback we got from everyone was incredible,” she said. She added that the team is planning other new ways to give unaware students “a glimpse into the wonderful world of ASL” with, for example, movie nights showing deaf cinema.

Darwish said that she began signing at 14 years old and greatly enjoyed learning the language, but never found people around her to share it with, until she came to AUS. 

“I knew I could not walk out on this amazing group of determined students willing to spare some time every week to sign, share and learn together. I’ve met the sweetest people, who are now my good friends and I’m glad ASL brings us together,” she added.

Dana Fouad, another undergraduate student and member of the initiative, said that students, as part of the AUS Community Services Office, founded the collaborative space for all AUS students to learn ASL.

“Nothing can replace the human connection that language provides; technological translation devices can try but at the end of the day learning sign language yourself is the best way to reach out to a deaf friend,” Fouad said.