ASL Club at WTHS


Priyal Patel, Writer

Have you ever wanted to learn American Sign Language (ASL), but didn’t know where to start? Our own Warren Township High School community is welcoming a new ASL club at our school where you can start your learning journey in the language with simple letters and words that can help you develop into a more fluent interpreter and signer. 

Junior Anisha Batchu started the club because wanted to provide a safe space for people to gradually learn about the language and the culture that comes with it, while also promoting diversity. “I’ve always been in awe of deaf interpreters, especially during political speeches when they’re on the side because they can express themselves using their hands and facial expressions. I think it is such a beautiful language that I want to share with students.”

Before the club came into fruition, Anisha started to slowly learn and teach herself the basics of the language from resources she found online. “I did know some [ASL] beforehand. Over break, I was just going [through] lesson after lesson trying to learn as much as I can so I could help the other students out. I think it is just a process we will all take together and learn from that.” 

However, creating a club at Warren isn’t the easiest process. On top of creating lesson plans for the club, Anisha had to search high and low for teachers willing to host and chaperone a group of eager students after school. “I reached out to Mrs. Swansons, she is a math teacher at O’Plaine, and I was super grateful when she said she would do it. She was very invested in this and was as excited as I am.” Anisha also knew she could not do all of the work by herself so she appointed her Vice President, Sarah Bedwell, who helps her oversee and plans the meetings with her. Sarah has some experience in ASL after taking summer classes to learn the language. 

Anisha planned out the lessons by using the website ASL For Teens as well as looking at other people who started ASL clubs and taking inspiration from their lesson plans. She also wanted to incorporate lessons from actual deaf people to retain the accuracy and representation of the language. She stumbled upon Dr. Vicar, a deaf professor who teaches college students ASL who had videos online teaching anything and everything about the language. This was the hardest challenge for her because she wanted to make sure she was including all the needed information for the members to learn. 

ASL has become very prevalent in mainstream media in the last year after big movie franchises like Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced characters who use ASL to communicate. One recent example is the character Makkari in the recent MCU movie, “Eternals”, which is played by the deaf actress Lauren Ridloff. Anisha does not only want to teach the language but also wants to publicize accurate deaf representation that students may not know about. “I think it is really important especially for pop culture in general just to bring that influence of other cultures. And I think there are so many figures out there that are famous that people didn’t really know that are deaf or hard of hearing. I think it is really important to bring those people into light.”

The ASL club meets every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month in Room 318A at the O’Plaine campus from 3:20-4:00 pm.

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