American Sign Language courses grow, develop


Photo by Jordan David

Dana Callan-Farley teaching his American Sign Language class.

In the basement of Cramer Hall, the professor starts waving his hand in a left to right motion. The students immediately give him their attention and become silent. Class has begun.

Dana Callan-Farley has been teaching American Sign Language for over 30 years, so when he came to Marquette three years ago, he started teaching a class under the speech pathology department. Currently there are two courses in ASL offered to Marquette students.

Callan-Farley is making an effort to grow the presence of ASL and the deaf community on campus.

“Right now, I am working with the provost’s office as a proposal to develop initiatives regarding making Marquette a more inclusive environment for deaf students and the deaf community,” Callan-Farley said.

Nothing has been set in stone with an ASL program coming to campus, but Callan-Farley said their goal is to offer ASL to any student and include it as a foreign language credit.

Gwen Berglind, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, took the first ASL course offered last semester with Callan-Farley.

“Just to be aware of the deaf culture is so important for everyone. There is such a respect for it,” Berglind said.

Rachel Garcia, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said she has continued to use what she learned by completing both of the offered courses.

“I use it on a day-to-day basis, like if I’m eating or lost my voice, I’ll use sign language,” Garcia said. “One time I went to the Apple store and there was a deaf employee, so I was able to use the sign language I learned to communicate.”

The ASL courses have yet to include service with the Milwaukee deaf community, but Callan-Farley said he sees that in the future.

“To serve a community you have to know the community. Marquette, at this moment, doesn’t know the community,” he said. “I think we could be at the forefront of Jesuit education in building those relationships with the deaf community.”