In its second semester as a University of South Dakota organization, the American Sign Language Club is doing big things — like landing a screening of the 2010 award-winning documentary “See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary,” which has been screened in over 120 cities internationally.
“See What I’m Saying” follows four deaf entertainers including an actor, comic, drummer, and singer as they overcome obstacles in order to cross over from their success within the Deaf community to mainstream audiences. Since its debut in 2010, the documentary has received awards from film festivals worldwide including the Philadelphia Film Festival’s winner for Best Feature Documentary. The 90-minute documentary, directed by Hilari Scarl, will be screened at 7 p.m. in Farber Hall on April 10 with a Q&A session following the screening.
Teri Bellis, club adviser and chair of the communication sciences and disorders department said the group has been working directly with Scarl, the director, in getting the film screened at USD in order to raise awareness about Deaf culture.
“The mission of our club is to increase awareness of American Sign Language and the Deaf culture,”Bellis said. “A lot of people are not aware of the Deaf culture, a lot of people aren’t familiar that there even is a Deaf culture and so we’re doing a variety of different activities both to help funding the ASL Club and to fulfill that mission.”
Through the funds raised by the event, senior Anthony Hunt, the club’s co-president said the group has projects in the works.
“We have plans for a children’s theater to go into elementary schools and teach children what it means to be deaf and how to deal with a student who is deaf,” he said.
Additionally, Hunt said through events like the “See What I’m Saying” screening he hopes the ASL Club will not only get the word out about their organization but also provide the area with a useful networking resource.
Scarl said the screening in a more rural area like Vermillion, is important as it may help provide those of the Deaf community with more support.
“This (showing in Vermillion) is just as important as the big cities, if not more important, to make hearing mainstream people realize that there is a vibrant Deaf community and to bring more awareness,” she said.
Bellis said the film can challenge individuals’ preconceived notions.
“It opens the door to something that is so rich and so enjoyable regardless of hearing status, regardless of who you are,” she said. “It can challenge people’s preconceived notions in a way and have them examine their own kind of personal belief systems in a way that very few films can.”
Reach reporter Emma Murray at Emma.Murray@usd.edu.