STLCOP Student Shares Passion for Sign Language
Published on 27 March 2015
“Steven with a ‘v’ for victory, not a ‘ph’ for phony. That is unless you know a Stephen with a ‘ph’, then it stands for sophisticated. I don’t like to make enemies the first time I meet someone.”
Freshman Steven Kramer introduces himself by signing his introduction. His passion for American Sign Language (ASL) is evident from the moment you meet him. Kramer’s love of sign language began in eighth grade when he joined the ASL Club. After learning how to sign the song We Are the World for a school talent show, he knew he wanted to advocate for the Deaf community.
“We performed the song with music playing, but then we purposefully had the music stop and continued signing, so that those in the audience could experience being deaf,” Kramer said. “It was so quiet in the audience that you could hear a pin drop. That moment really touched me.”
While attending O’Fallon Township High School, Kramer sparked interests amongst his peers and tried to implement an ASL organization, but was unable to find a teacher to sponsor his program. He then enrolled in sign language courses and joined the ASL Club at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC).
After attending STLCOP Freshmen Orientation this past summer, he spoke with Toni McMurphy, vice president of culture and campus life, and explained his dream of starting an ASL organization on campus. McMurphy agreed to sponsor his organization.
After four years of waiting, Kramer’s dream was finally becoming a reality. As president of the ASL Club, he is tasked with educating nearly 30 members on how to help the Deaf community as future health care professionals.
“Through special guests and presentations, members learn basic sign language skills and about technology that has been created to better serve the Deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind,” Kramer said.
Through his membership in the SWIC ASL Club, Kramer was able to help bring two ASL interpreters to the College’s fall play, The Curious Savage, in order to provide a deaf-friendly event. He looks forward to the new opportunities the STLCOP ASL Club will provide in connecting the College with the Deaf community.
“I hope to make more events deaf-friendly and eventually work with faculty to incorporate sign language into academic courses as a way to help prepare future pharmacists to better serve those with hearing loss,” he said.
In the future, the ASL Club will work with other STLCOP organizations, SWIC ASL Club, and the Deaf community in St. Louis to raise awareness and understand the needs of the Deaf community.