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Members of the Dactylology Club after their annual Christmas caroling.

For the spring issue of Harding magazine, I covered several student organizations. It was interesting to learn about what these clubs are doing and their varied interests. Another example of an awesome student organization is the Dactylology Club, which is one of the oldest organizations on campus.

The club traces its origins to a class started in fall 1949 by student Sam Roach, who was hearing impaired. He began leading classes in sign language. In a letter, Roach wrote that the purpose of the group was “to teach and train hearing people to preach the gospel and work among deaf people in any way they desired to serve.” The classes officially became the Dactylology Club in 1956.

Today, students meet weekly on campus for classes and plan occasional trips to visit Sylvan Hills Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas, to participate in the services and class for the deaf there. In December, they go to the homes of some deaf members of the community and perform Christmas carols in sign language.

The club also allows hearing students to get a taste of what being deaf is like.

“’It’s a Deaf, Deaf World’ is an activity that we do with members of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services and Arkansas Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Little Rock,” says sponsor and director of the McNair Program Linda Thompson. “This activity simulates what it would be like in a deaf world where the predominant language is silent, turning the tables on the hearing. It’s an eye-opening activity.”

Thompson was a Dactylology Club member when she was a student. Her group had traveled to a church in Little Rock, Arkansas, to sign for the deaf members. “My husband, [Dean of the College of Sciences] Travis Thompson, who was my boyfriend at the time, tried to tell the deaf members that we were going to be married, only the sign for ‘marriage’ and the sign for ‘hamburger’ are very much alike, and he told them we were hamburgers! They just laughed, and when we figured out what he had done, we laughed, too.”

To learn more about a few of the other campus organizations in our spring issue, click here.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

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