ASL classes should be offered in schools

Lily Yoss, Staff Writer

In the U.S., American Sign Language is the sixth most used language, according to Odyssey. Prominent foreign languages, such as French and Spanish, are taught in schools, and ASL should be as well.

“I would love us to be able to offer as many different languages as we could ,Coordinator of  Student Services Melissa McIntire said “ASL is an actual foreign language, so it has its own syntax, word order, and grammar rules, so it’s definitely a foreign language. It’s a language students could put to immediate use […]  especially since we live near Olathe, which is where the deaf school is. I’d love to see it, but I know it’s hard to staff.”

McIntire, whose parents are both deaf, used to run a sign language club.

“I had a lot of kids ask me about it,” she said. “People knew that I was fluent in sign language, and we had tried to get a class started here, but it’s really difficult to find an instructor for it and there wasn’t a way for me to fit that into my schedule. The best thing I thought we could do at the time was start a sign language club.”

Sophomore Alana Hansen also grew up with deaf parents. She describes it as being, “pretty strange, but great at the same time.”

“My parents always support me, especially when I transitioned to the ‘hearing world,’” she said.  Learning to actually speak was really hard, as sign language was my first language and I didn’t know how to speak until I was about to go into kindergarten. My parents were always there and supportive of me, and they still are.”

According to Odyssey, “as of 2015, 360 million people worldwide are reported to have seriously disabling hearing loss. That is five percent of the world population.” Many of theses  people use and are entirely dependent on ASL to communicate.

“We have a pretty limited selection for foreign languages, and ASL should be added to that,” Hansen said,  “Think of all the deaf people out there. They come into restaurants or they come into stores and you don’t know how to communicate with them. If it were taught and kids learned it when they were younger, they would be able to communicate with many deaf people.”

When deaf people go somewhere they must either hope someone happens to know ASL, take someone who can interpret for them, or communicate through writing.

“Honestly, deaf people get tired of asking for pieces of paper and writing what they want to say,” Hansen said. “Learning ASL can help those who can hear communicate with those who can’t and vice versa.”

McIntire agrees.

“I think it’s important to know lots of different languages so that you can communicate with all kinds of people,” McIntire said. “Sign language is a beautiful language, it’s a fun language to know, on top of being able to communicate with deaf people.”

Hansen’s mother, Amber Hansen, feels that learning ASL is beneficial for members of both the hearing and deaf communities.

“ASL class is a benefit for students to learn how to communicate with deaf people around the community, at work, and at shopping places” A. Hansen said. “If they were to interview for a job, they can let the boss know they know sign language very well, get more pay and add it to their resume.”

Deaf individuals are dependent on sign language as their way of communicating with those who can hear, and it can even be their first language, just like any other language. Classes would benefit students tremendously. They would have more job opportunities with good pay, and they’re learning a beautiful language at the same time.