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TCNJ hosts ASL Fun Day for students who use sign language

Students play card games together during recent ASL Fun Day event at TCNJ
School of Education students facilitate fun and games during the annual ASL Fun Day for young deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Photo by Anthony DePrimo. 

Last month, The College of New Jersey’s School of Education gathered over 100 members of the hearing and deaf communities including local high school students and members of the college’s Deaf Hearing Connection student group, for the first-ever ASL Fun Day. 

The event featured various activities, including a deaf business fair, scavenger hunt, a challenge room, ASL & Deaf Culture trivia, and classic board games like Guess Who? and Scattergories, that allowed the participants to interact exclusively using American Sign Language. 

“One of the best things about this event is that it was a barrier-free experience,” said Heather Osowski, adjunct professor in the TCNJ School of Education’s Center for Sensory and Complex Disabilities. “We did not use interpreters to help translate, so it allowed everyone to put their knowledge of the language to practical use throughout the day.” 

The immersive nature of the day was appreciated by the participants, who came from four high schools throughout the state. 

“The day was well planned out and a wonderful opportunity for hearing students learning ASL to meet and interact with deaf and hard of hearing peers, something many students would never have had the chance to do without this day sponsored by TCNJ,” said Deanna Perry, teacher of the deaf at Mountain Lakes High School in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. “The advisors, staff, and the college students did a terrific job creating activities to match the differing levels of the students involved and fun was had by all who participated.”

Melanie Phillips, coordinator for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing program at TCNJ, hopes to make this an annual event to raise awareness of the value of learning ASL not only related to communication but also to students’ professional endeavors.   

“It’s usually an eye-opening moment for students to realize how knowing ASL can make the world a more accessible place no matter what their professional pursuits are,” she said. “Some majors require a world language but many others are really enhanced by students adding ASL to their studies.”

For more information on TCNJ’s Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing offerings, please visit the program’s website.

— Luke Sacks

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