In January of 2016, Rhoman James, who currently serves as the group’s president, founded Centre Signers. Centre Signers is an American Sign Language (ASL) club on campus where the learning of ASL and deaf culture is taught. In addition, the group also offers language opportunities to engage the deaf community.
The group’s main goal is to encourage interaction between the Centre student body and the large deaf community in Danville. James believes that the first step in connecting the two groups is to first learn deaf culture and language. One way to learn about deaf culture and language is to attend classes held by Gary Crase. Gary Crase holds ASL classes each Tuesday and Thursday in Young 110 for students and faculty, 6-7pm for beginners and 7-8pm for advanced learners. In addition, Centre Signers helps to organize events where students can practice ASL and get involved with the deaf community.
James believes bridging this gap is important. “I believe that it is important for our students to get out of the Centre bubble and out of their comfort zone. It is easy to do the same activities and hang around with the same people, but venturing to learn more about another culture can be difficult.” James said, “I believe by promoting Gary’s classes and organizing events/activities on campus, Centre Signers encourages students to take their first step towards learning something new about a culture that is very important to Danville.”
The club also has big plans for the future. One of the group’s main goals includes establishing a CentreTerm class for ASL and deaf culture. This would surely allow the student body to become more educated and more involved in the deaf community. In addition, the group hopes to bring in speakers for convocations and workshops to be held on campus. Finally, the group would like to continue to build and hopefully cement a lasting relationship between Centre and the deaf community of Danville, including the Kentucky School for the Deaf.
Centre Signers is still looking to improve itself. “Our outreach efforts are definitely in need of improvement. If we can inform more people around Danville and on campus about our events, it will increase the turnout and result in better community cohesion.” Said James, “We want to serve as a mediator between our student community and the greater community of Danville.”
Centre Signers will be holding its 2nd Annual Ice Cream Social soon. It is an event open to the deaf and hearing communities. If you would like to get involved, contact Rhoman James. Anyone and everyone in the Danville community, both of the deaf and hearing communities, are encouraged to get involved and to participate in this and future events.