Imagine a space void of background noise—no hum of the lights, no distant chatter, no clatter of heels—just silence. Now, imagine that same space were also full of life and conversation.
It may not seem possible, but for those with little to no hearing, it is. The Fort Bend Deaf Community is a gregarious group, and Tony Slate, FBCA American Sign Language teacher, has created a safe place for the community to unite in fellowship.
On the second Friday night of every month, the Fort Bend Christian Academy ASL Club, the American Sign Language Honor Society and the Fort Bend Deaf Community meet for a social at Chick-fil-A. FBCA students have the opportunity to interact with people in the community and learn more about the challenges that the Deaf and their families face. The social provides an opportunity for the students to use ASL in a natural setting and strengthen their communication skills.
Slate came up with the concept on a Friday in July, 2010, when Fort Bend Christian Academy American Sign Language Club hosted an ASL/Deaf Social at Chick-fil-A in Greatwood. There were about 80 Deaf individuals in attendance on the first night.
“The Deaf community is a highly social and very cohesive group of people,” Slate said. “Each month they get together at a different restaurant to socialize and catch up. I thought, why not do everything we can to make this location a favorite spot for our Deaf community.”
Tony Slate met with Operator/Owner Quart Graves who was on board with making it a regular event.
Adding to the fun, Graves creates trivia questions, Slate signs the questions and winners receive prizes. Other schools that attend this social are ASL students from FBISD, LCISD, KISD, Lone Star Community College and the University of Houston.
Regular attendee Larry Butler said he enjoys meeting people learning ASL.
“I love to encourage people not to be afraid of ASL or the Deaf,” Butler said.
The group is nearing their seventh year of socials at Chick-fil-A, and the FBCA ASL Club will be hosting a few more this semester.
Fort Bend Christian Academy is a private, college-preparatory school located in Sugar Land, Texas, serving grades Pre-K through 12. For more information about ASL club or the other clubs offered at Fort Bend Christian Academy, visit the website.