HOW TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL ASL ACTIVITY
Here are some principles of success:
Each time the club sets up an activity, you should choose a chairperson
for that activity. The chairperson should be someone who is PERSONALLY
excited about the activity and would enjoy doing it even if he or she
were the ONLY person in attendance.
For example, suppose the club is hanging out and someone mentions that
it would be fun to go to Zoo. Then the idea gets on an agenda, everybody
seems to think it would be fun, and gets approved as an activity. It
should ONLY get approved if there is at least ONE person who is VERY
excited about doing it and is willing to accept TOTAL responsibility for
success. That person would choose a date that is:
1. Personally convenient for him or her.
2. Reasonably convenient for everybody else in the world.
Then that person would develop the mindset that "I'm going to go to the
Zoo and have a great time. I just happen to be inviting the whole Sign
Language Club to join me. If they want to come have a great time WITH
me, they are WELCOME to do so.
This mindset is the reason my ASL trips to Disneyland are so successful.
Each year I take the mindset that I am going to Disneyland and have a
great time. If anyone else wants to come with me they are welcome to go.
Then I work my tail off to make it happen.
Let's continue our discussion of the Zoo activity. So, now we have a
person who has decided that she really wants to go to the Zoo. She is
elected chair of the Zoo Activity. The meeting might go something like
SLA Chair: Okay, next item of business on our agenda is the Zoo trip.
Amy, this is your item, would you please talk about this item?
AMY: Yes! I want to go to the Zoo this summer and thought it would be a
great activity for the Sign Language Club. Deaf people can get in free
and for each deaf person, we can have one free escort (hearing person).
Typically what happens is we all show up and the group leader goes to
the ticket booth and reminds the operator that this is the deaf group
scheduled for the day. The operator says, "Tell them the line up." Then
they open the gate and we all file in. I would be willing to chair a
[Note: Check your local Zoo's policies ahead of time!]
SLA President: That sounds fun, what type of resources would you need
from the Club?
Amy: I would need flyers, classroom reps, a calling tree, and a van.
SLA President: Any discussion?
Cindy (Treasurer): We don't have the money to rent a van, couldn't we
Bill (Advisor): I think carpooling is a good idea, also could we charge
money for non-members of the club? For example $2 for non-members and
FREE for members?
[The President lets this go on for a bit then stops the discussion]
President: Okay it sounds like something most of us support, do I hear a
motion to accept this as an official activity of the Club with Amy as
Cindy: So move.
President: Is there a second?
President: All in favor?
ALL: <hands raised>
President: Looks like it passes. Amy when would it be convenient for you
to have committee meetings? How about at the Saturday morning breakfast?
Amy: Yes that will work for me.
President: Fine then, Amy, if you would please pass around a sheet of
paper, write at the top:
"Zoo Trip Committee," Put yourself at the top as chair, then those of
you who personally want to go to the Zoo put your name, phone number,
and address. If you want to help Amy organize the activity then put a
star by your name.
Fred: Doesn't she already have our addresses on the membership list?
President: Yes, but a moment of your time writing your personal
information saves her the hassle of having to look it up and makes it
more likely she will actually contact you and get you involved.
[The president then puts the Zoo trip on the agenda for the next general
Then Amy goes about the process of organizing and advertising the
activity. She gets an Activity Planning Sheet, checks the state
Association for the Deaf Calendar and local Community Center for the
Deaf Calendar for an open date, then she does the following things to
the BEST of her ability:
1. Create a flyer that clearly states: Who, what, when, where, how,
how-much, what for, how long, how to get there, how to get more
information, and--if necessary--a map.
2. Create a mini-flyer containing all of the above information.
Preferably this flyer will be an eighth of a sheet of paper and a small
stack of them can be carried in her pocket to hand out to everyone she
meets between now and the event.
3. Write a news release and email it to the Advisor. The news release
would state something to the effect of: News release: The Sign Language
Club is hosting a no-voice trip to the (specific name) Zoo on
August 16th. Friends and family members of people who are deaf are
invited to participate. For more information contact Amy Smith at
916-555-1234 or Bill Vicars at 916-555-6779. [The advisor will then fax
or email it to the local newspapers for publication.]
4. Submit the information to the local school newspapers and any school
5. Contact as many high school and college sign language club Presidents
as you can and have them submit the information to their school
6. Meet with the High School Presidents at the ASL breakfast and hand
them a stack of flyers.
7. Contact the sign language instructors at the various schools
throughout the state. (This might require a concentrated effort of
calling the schools and finding out who their instructors are and their
addresses and email.)
8. Contact the editor of your state newsletter for the deaf, submit the
activity as a flyer and pay for it. [Prior to submitting any flyer to
any newspaper you ought to clear it with the Advisor.]
9. Show up in every sign language class taught at the local university
and tell the students about the activity.
10. Send or take a flyer to the State School for the Deaf.
11. Have a committee get-together at someone's house. (Invite anyone who
wants to come, but remind them that this is to discuss and promote the
Zoo trip activity.)
Do a potato bar or whatever, and invite a few deaf people. Have them
bring their phone list. Make sure there is a tty available and then
everybody take turns calling all the members of the Club and any deaf
people you can think of to let them know about the activity.
12. Work with the Club newsletter person and see to it that the Activity
gets put in the newsletter and or a special mailing to ALL the members.
13. See to it that details of the activity are E-mailed to everybody who
might possibly be interested.
14. Take a group of Club members and a stack of flyers with a few rolls
of tape and or a stapler and "plaster" the campus with flyers. Warning:
Don't put flyers on any painted surfaces, or any doors. (Some painted
walls may already have plenty of flyers on them--use your head and make
a judgment decision as to the appropriateness of posting. The point is,
don't cause any damage or cause any inconvenience.)
If you have five or six people and about a hundred flyers and each
person has some tape you
can get done in a very short period of time!
A good time to do this is after the breakfast on Saturday mornings.
Such flyers, in addition to advertising the Hogle Zoo trip, should
include an ad for the Saturday
morning breakfast and also any currently available classes, for example,
any free classes being
A final thought in regards to hosting successful activities: The
presidency and board of directors of the Club should subscribe to the
local Deaf newspapers, magazines, online groups, and "listservs." They should also try to include as
many Deaf as possible in the planning process.
Good luck. Work hard. Have fun!
Dr. Bill Vicars
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