The ASL Club hosts “Silent Lunch”

Photo of entrance to Henry Ford College main campus.

March 20 was a big day for HFC’s American Sign Language Club. After two months of weekly meetings, the new student club hosted their first “Silent Lunch,” a fundraiser held in HFC’s student-run restaurant, “Fifty One-O-One.”

With the help of the culinary staff at Fifty One-O-One, the lunch was a Caribbean-style buffet, with grilled chicken, rice, roasted vegetables and club sandwiches. ASL students carried whiteboards and paper as they interacted with guests. Although the room was bustling with activity and conversation, the only sounds heard were the scratching of forks on plates and the shuffle of feet. Guests learned the alphabet, basic phrases, and how to sign their own names by fingerspelling (spelling out their names with the ASL alphabet). Each guest also had pamphlets with information about Deaf culture and awareness.

“It is important to have events like this to bridge the gap between the hearing and Deaf communities,” Iver Johnson, vice president of the ASL Club said. “Being Deaf isn’t something that is wrong or needs to be changed,” Johnson added, but being Deaf involves living in “a different culture with a different language and community.” The ASL Club’s goal is to make HFC more Deaf aware, and to make college a more deaf-friendly environment by hosting public events like this. Over 100 guests attended the event. Many different groups were at the Silent Lunch, including Deaf Newspaper of Michigan, Siena Heights University, Alliance for DisAbility Awareness, and many members of the Deaf community, including Daniel Durant, a Deaf activist and actor featured in ABC’s “Switched At Birth.”

Tricia Sutherby, a deaf woman who attended the event said, “ASL to me means growth. It allows me to communicate with the world and has changed me in ways I cannot even describe. It means the world to me.”

The ASL club is planning to host more events like this in the near future. Currently they host “Deaf Social Nights” at the Fairlane Mall Town Center every second Friday of the month, open to the public. Their meetings are every Tuesday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Eshleman Library.