ASU’s small ‘d’ deaf community

November 22, 2019

The deaf Devils @ ASU is a new club with a very intentional approach to inclusivity and name. Beginning as a small task force, the student leaders of deaf Devils @ ASU have a meaningful mission: to celebrate and support deaf students and culture among Sun Devils on all four ASU campuses and at ASU Online

There are approximately 200 students who have currently registered as deaf and hard of hearing with the Disability Resource Center,” deaf Devils @ ASU President Dylan Lang said. 

According to him the small ‘d’ represents the entire deaf and hearing loss community, and he wants the organization to do the same for ASU students. 

“We are using our resources to reach out and support as many of those individuals as we can on an ongoing basis,” Lang said. The deaf Devils @ ASU and Lang also work to involve deaf Devils who may not be registered with the DRC. “We invite [...] ASL teachers and other student organizations to send members our way who are a part of the community.”

Deaf Devils ASU student group meets up at a local Starbucks

A recent coffee and signing meetup on ASU's Tempe campus

Lang, a computer science and business entrepreneurship student, has big plans for the club. 

“We're tailoring our club to educate the ASU community about deaf culture and essentially how to support the deaf community is a long-term focus,” he said.

Though ASU’s American Sign Language club may be better known on campus, Lang says deaf Devils @ ASU’s focus distinguishes the emerging club. The deaf Devils @ ASU hones in on deaf awareness, culture and “supporting the entire deaf community here at ASU.” Together the clubs do Coffee and Sign meet-ups every other Thursday night at the Starbucks on University and Forest near ASU’s Tempe campus. 

The deaf Devils’ kick off event, ABABABA, was a huge success with the deaf community. ABABABA is a deaf comedy and storytelling show performed by a CODA, or child of deaf adults. Lori Johnson, manager of deaf and hard of hearing services at the DRC and a CODA, is a personal friend of ABABABA performer Alan Abarbanell. Johnson is also the adviser of deaf Devils @ ASU. She encouraged the students to form the group. Now Lang and deaf Devils @ ASU are preparing for their spring semester event to take place as part of ASU Open Door, the university’s annual community open house and showcase. The club’s activity at Open Door will be an educational program on deaf culture; they are working to add speakers to their presentation.

With all the work deaf Devils @ ASU is doing, there are a few things Lang would like to see after his days at ASU. 

I'd love to see a speaker series where a whole bunch of deaf individuals come by monthly so we can bring a revolving door of interesting perspectives on culture for the entire ASU community to attend.”

The biggest issue he wants to tackle is the unemployment rate in the deaf community. 

“I've seen so many instances where an employer looks at you, knows that you're deaf and then you automatically shot yourself out of a job,” Lang said. “I figured that's a really important thing to come by and will take a lot longer than my two years left here to figure that out.”