Sign language club founded at Tech

American Sign Language president Ethan Baril signs to his friend. Photo by Logan Staley.

Tech students founded the American Sign Language club this semester not only because of their passion, but also their desire to gather a community who share the same interest.

President Ethan Baril and vice president Rebecca Sweeten offer tutoring, extra credit and create a community for ASL students and those interested in learning the language.

Tech offers ASL classes on campus and online. Students in these classes can benefit greatly from participating in the club, Baril said. 

“I wanted to start it as a way to provide tutoring/studying help…for ASL students here at Tech, especially for the students taking it online. It’s so difficult to learn a language alone,” Sweeten said.

Baril has been completely deaf since he was 2 and now uses a Cochlear implant to assist his hearing. 

“I got bacterial meningitis. I lost all my hearing and a little bit of my

eyesight,” Baril said.

At the age of 11, Baril attended the Tennessee School for the Deaf in Knoxville, Tennessee where he learned ASL.

“It’s like every other language, you have to start somewhere,” Baril said.

Sweeten said she started learning ASL after attending a church camp with several deaf people. 

“I became so infatuated with the language…I began to sit with the deaf members of my church and watch the interpreter,” Sweeten said. 

Through her deaf friends she began to learn more ASL by communicating with them and taking notes. Sweeten said it wasn’t until she started school at Tech that she received formal training.

“I wanted to start this club as a way to bring people together who have a common interest: American Sign Language and deaf culture,” she said. 

The ASL club currently has about 30 people involved, Baril said. Students interested in joining the ASL club or learning more about it and upcoming events can visit “ttuaslclub” on Instagram or join the GroupMe by going to