The alarm went off. Kasey McMaster walked through the rows of people, signaling that their time was up, and everyone froze.
Simultaneously, everybody rose and chairs began to clatter. Each person moved over one seat to their right and sat back down. The timer was set again, and the whole room grew silent once more.
More than 50 people gathered in Camden County College’s West Cafeteria on November 19, 2015. The American Sign Language Club hosted its semesterly “Sign & Switch” event.
Kathy Earp, the club’s advisor, compared the event to “speed dating,” which made McMaster, the club’s president, laugh in disagreement, but she agreed when Earp said, “Sign & Switch is for anybody that wants to come to interact with the deaf community.”
The two said “Sign & Switch” is similar to speed dating, however, no words are spoken.
Instead, conversation is held through sign language. The event is mainly intended for meeting people and forming new friendships.
The room is set up with two rows of chairs facing one another. People are given two minutes to communicate with one another, and then are sent to converse with the next person, hence the event’s title.
During each round, Earp spoke about what inspires her to continually advise the club.
“I’ve been working with deaf and hard of hearing students at CCC since 1988. I’m inspired to be able to level the playing field at community college by providing, interpreting, note taking, and captioning support services for deaf and hard of hearing students,” she said.
McMaster said the club also hosts a “Sign & Switch” event in the spring. The club meets every other Tuesday at CCC and tries to meet on Thursdays at Rowan University in Glassboro as often as possible.
Earp encouraged those eager to learn sign language or about the club to attend a meeting.
“The ASL Club is an excellent way for students to have a platform at CCC to promote deaf culture awareness,” she said, adding that sign language is “a fascinating and wonderfully expressive language.”
“The ASL Club gives DHH students a voice on campus, and I know the students have made an impact on CCC by opening people’s eyes to ASL and deaf culture,” Earp said.