Student Advocates for Accessibility host online ASL workshop


Laurier’s student collective Student Advocates for Accessibility (SAFA) is hosting a workshop for Laurier students and community members on Thursday Oct. 21 to learn basic American Sign Language. 


The collective hosts American Sign Language workshops each year to promote accessibility in speech. 


Alyson Rankin, the President of SAFA, is hopeful to see more Laurier students who are eager to learn the language attend this event .


 “A brief understanding of deaf culture and ASL will promote that understanding to foster more acceptance and awareness. You can’t really combat discrimination if you don’t understand what’s happening,” said Rankin. 


Although this is the third ASL workshop SAFA has put on to help the Brantford community to learn sign language, this year is the first time this workshop has been virtual. 


Due to the new virtual life last year, the SAFA team was unable to meet in person and held no workshops. This year, the group was fortunate enough to find a way to meet online and teach sign language. 


Meeting digitally allows everyone to come to this event. People who are immuno-compromised or are unable to physically attend in person events now have an accessible way to learn. 


SAFA says they may keep their workshops online because of how accessible they are. 


This workshop will take place from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. through a virtual zoom meeting. The link to this meeting can be found on the SAFA social media accounts on Instagram or Facebook. 


This workshop is for a beginner level of ASL, teaching numbers from 1-20, the alphabet and basic conversational words. People of all ages are welcome and are encouraged to learn a new way of speaking in an accessible fashion. 


On Oct. 28, a week after the workshop, attendees will be entered in a draw to win a $25 amazon gift card. 


In previous meetings about 15 students have shown up, but the workshop is gaining traction with more students registering. 


SAFA is Partnering with the Canadian hearing society to bring in instructors and interpreters to teach at the workshop, ensuring all sign language being taught is accurate and up to date. 


“If people know sign language or just enough to get by in brief conversations … people can go about their lives easier, having that accessibility and understanding. If people have that understanding how being deaf impacts a person’s life and experiences, that understanding can help [their daily lives],” said Rankin.  


This is the second and last ASL workshop of the term. In the Winter term, two workshops will be hosted to learn ASL, one before and after reading week. 


Rankin emphasizes the importance of sign language and further explains how it is beneficial to learn the basics of the language to promote inclusion and accommodation. 


Everyone’s life journeys are very different. To learn a new language to ease a communication barrier is a small way to accommodate basic humanity. 


FASA has a general member’s meeting every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. and encourages newcomers to come out and join their group. 


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