ASL Community Service Projects


It can be difficult to go into a group of people you don’t know, especially if they are using a language with which you are not yet fully confident. However, interacting in social settings with multiple adult signers who use varying ASL styles is a necessary step in your acquisition of ASL skills and Deaf cultural knowledge.  These social experiences help you to become accustomed to the style variations you will encounter in the community. They also help the community begin to know you – social interaction develops contacts that you might find useful, and fun, later in your studies and career.

To help you judge acceptable interactions vs. non-acceptable interactions, here is a non-inclusive list of examples:


  1. Going to a Deaf Dingo night, watching for a while, and then approaching several Deaf adults and playing at their table, while interacting with them.
  2. Going to a Deaf social event, such as DeafNation, or a St. Patrick’s Day party, watching for awhile, and then interacting with several Deaf adults.
  3. Going to a Deaf church, then staying afterwards for the coffee social and interacting with several Deaf adults while you are there.
  4. Going to Gallaudet or NTID for an event or a weekend visit and interacting with several Deaf students your own age while you are there.
  5. Volunteering to work at a "silent weekend" and interacting mostly with multiple Deaf adults.
  6. Going to the same event more than once, but clearly defining for your instructor how the actual experiences (and your participation) will be very different each time, prior to going to the event.


  1. Signing with your mirror, your hearing child or hearing family member, or another ASL student. Such interactions do not provide you with a good model for the language, and do not provide you with accurate feedback.
  2. Signing with a d/Deaf friend or single individual. Once you are past Intermediate ASL II, this does not provide you with exposure to individual variation in ASL signing styles or with accurate feedback, since it is likely that the D/deaf person will slow down and code-switch with you. Additionally, it does not build your familiarity with the larger Deaf community. You need to “step outside of your comfort zone” and seek out new and multiple interactions.
  3. Going to a “Deaf church” and watching the service, or going to a “Deaf movie or play” and watching. This provides you with NO interaction at all – you are passively receiving visual stimulus, but not actually using the language.
  4. Going to a school or MRDD setting and watching/helping/interacting with children or adults who sign. Again, this does not provide you with competent adult models.
  5. Volunteering to work at a "silent weekend," but then interacting mostly with other students.
  6. Going to a "silent dinner" or a restaurant gathering where Deaf attendance is minimum (i.e. if there are more hearing than Deaf participants, it's not a Deaf community event). Gatherings like BW3 are not considered a Deaf interaction.
  7. Going to the same event more than once and doing the same type of participation rather than seeking out varied experiences.
Interaction With Staff or Faculty  Related to KSU, or with KSU Students, is Not Acceptable As a Deaf Community Interaction.

If you ask before you go to a social interaction, your instructor can help you with deciding if you've picked an appropriate interaction or not.

Student community service projects help to build your portfolio for your future career interviews by adding quality experiences. Community service projects also provide you with an opportunity to build your network of ties within the Deaf community, and to begin to develop a reputation for yourself within the Deaf community. Finally, community service projects also allow you to explore different fields and careers within the Deaf community.


Students in Intermediate ASL II and Advanced ASL I and II need to do projects (and cannot do the same project twice. Here are some tips on projects:

  • Start to plan and make your contacts EARLY for any community service project - it is not very professional to try to have an organization comply with your need to get a project completed when there is only three weeks of a semester left.
  • Remember that you are a student and your sign skills are generally very basic - you should not be expecting or accepting projects that involve professional skills or ASL fluency.
  • Your instructor must approve your project - your project has to fit with your skill level, provide you with interaction within the Deaf community, and provide you with an opportunity to network within the Deaf community. Your instructor might also require specific changes or additions to your proposed project.
  • When you contact an organization, you'll want to introduce yourself, explain that you are from KSU (which campus and which program), explain that you need to participate in an activity within the community.
  • Tell them why you've contacted this particular organization or person (Do your research before you make contact so that you know something about the organization. Contacting at random does not make the best impression.).
  • Ask if you can help or be involved, and ask how. Find out what they want or need you to do, and then offer to do it. The Deaf community organization you contact is the leader in your activity - you offer to follow and help.
  • For some organizations, it might take several contacts and some time to build a relationship - some organizations may be slower to trust you or welcome you; other organizations might readily welcome you with open arms the first time you contact them.
  • When you go to your activity, make sure you dress and behave as if this were a job. You might want to ask for a letter of recommendation from the organization some day, or you might want to list this experience on your resume for when you later go out to apply for jobs.
  • When you are done with your project, remember to write a formal thank you letter to your community sponsor. You might also want to ask if your community sponsor would write you a general letter of recommendation, addressing how well you adapted to the activity and setting, how prompt and professional you were, if you worked well with a team, etc.  IF you do ask for a letter, make sure you have a self-addressed envelope available for your sponsor.
  • Projects may be all on one day (for example, spending 6 hours at a setting, which might be a good option if the setting is a bit far away), or divided up over several contacts (for example, 12 thirty-minute sessions over the span of 6 weeks, which might be a good option if the setting is nearby). You may car pool with a friend and do a project together, or you may do a project on your own. You may do more than the required hours (and, in some cases, this might be required, so that the organization or community contact person isn't left with a half-finished activity).

Below are some ideas for places that have already indicated they would be happy to have you come, interact, and help. This is not an exhaustive list.


Kent State University does not recommend any particular site or activity, and expects the student to investigate activities and use good judgment. Kent State university does not guarantee personal health or safety at any point during off-campus activities, nor does it protect against risk of loss of any personal property.  Students should be covered by appropriate insurance. Students should understand that they assume all risks incurred by participation in off-campus activities and release Kent State University and employees from any and all claims.
Students are expected to use good judgment and to behave in accordance with university policy at all times.
Kent State University’s Digest of Rules and Regulations encourages personal freedom, maturity, and responsibility by clarifying behavior that is expected of students. As members of the University community, students are expected to:

  • Demonstrate responsible conduct;
  • Respect the cultural, lifestyle, and religious differences of others;
  • Be honest and forthright in academic endeavors;
  • Accept freedom of expression and be civil in disagreement; and
  • Use university-owned or controlled property responsibly.

The Code of Student Conduct translates these expectations into specific policies and describes the process through which claims of violations are resolved. Each student is responsible for knowing and abiding by the terms of the code. The full text is available in the Digest of Rules and Regulations, which is located in the FlashGuide and the printed university phone directory.


The following item is for students in Advanced ASL I or II (or above) who have their instructor's permission only.
The Ohio Association of the Deaf-Blind at times needs volunteer students to facilitate communication for their members during particular events. The position is called Support Service Provider (SSP) and training will be provided.  Some residents will also need tactile ASL; some need someone to voice.  If you are interested in being an SSP, you need to contact Bryan Grubb or Lynn Jansen about arrangements for training, and secure your instructor's approval prior to the event date! If you obtain your instructor's approval, and are a student in Advanced ASL I or above, then contact Bryan or Lynn with your name and email address and a line saying you are interested in being a volunteer SSP.

Attention Volunteers

Ohio Association for the Deaf-Blind Is seeking your help.  We need SSP (helpers) and Interpreters.  Many of our members require tactile ASL in order to be able to be involved, while others may just need a voice interpreter so that may be able to converse with others.

For Any Questions or Concerns Please Contact

Bryan Grubb
Mary Hale 614-538-0232 [voice]
Lynn Jansen 513-242-4171 [voice]

The Rest of These Opportunities Are Open to All Students, With the Understanding That They Must Also Be Approved By Your Instructor.
  • Ohio School for the Deaf often has events for families, professionals, etc.  They sometimes will welcome student representatives (volunteers).
    Visit the OSD website
  • Ohio School for the Deaf Alumni Association often holds events.  You can try contacting them to see if they need any volunteer help:
    Ohio School for the Deaf Alumni
    901 South Sunbury Road
    Westerville, OH 43081
    (614) 890-5533
  • Akron CSD  (Community Services for and of the Deaf) Is open to having student volunteers for selected activities.
    Contact information:
    Greenleaf Family Center/CSD
    212 East Exchange St
    Akron, OH
    (330) 376-9494 ext. 248 (voice)
    (330) 376- 9351 (TTY/VP)

    We are looking forward to hear from your students!
  • Southwest Deaf (SWCDC) at Parmadale Hall 6753 State Road, Parma Ohio 44134 has said they'd be happy to have students help with Dingo nights and events.
    Watch the events page at this website or contact them at
  • We, at the Deaf Kids and Teens Club, are seeking VOLUNTEERS to help us out with our many exciting activities, programs, and trips.
    We are looking for interested individuals, Deaf and hearing alike, who are proficient in American Sign Language, have an experience working with Deaf and hard of hearing youths of all ages, and serve as excellent role models in their community.
    We would like the volunteers of the Deaf Kids and Teens Club to show a commitment to the program by participating in at least 5 to 7 activities a year.

    If this volunteer opportunity interests you and you want to become a part of one of the exciting programs at the Deaf Services Center, please fill out a volunteer application and mail it to us at DSC, Attn: DKTC, 5830 N. High Street, Worthington, OH 43085.
    For more information, please contact Chris Johnson at 614-841-1991 (TTY/Voice) or
  • Silent Weekend Activities always need helpers. Contact Fred Palchick.
  • Columbus Colony Elder Care has expressed their desire not to use student volunteers, as has the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center (please ignore the volunteer solicitation page at CHSC -


  • Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center DOES wish to have student volunteers with the approval of your instructor. For more information about YHSC opportunities, contact Steve Vickery or Nancy Resh.
  • Sheila Owolabi does fund raising activities and material collections for Deaf schools in Africa.

You might also try:
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
2224 Triplet Blvd.
Akron, OH
Rob: 330.990.4210
Pastor Landsmann: 330.784.8688

Deaf Outreach Church
4520 South Arlington Rd
Greentown, OH

For a listing of religious organizations you might want to contact, explain who you are, and ask