A chance for ASL availability

When choosing a language course during high school, the most common language classes include French, Spanish and Chinese. However, despite American Sign Language, or ASL, being one of the most used languages in the US, it is not common in high school language selection. 

When a deaf or nonverbal person tries to communicate with someone using the signs and visual gestures associated with the language to someone who doesn’t know ASL, oftentimes it is hard for both parties to understand the other. In these cases, some people will not accommodate the deaf person nor take the time to realize they are. As a result, incorporating American Sign Language into the general schools’ curriculum will leave students with the choice to choose ASL as a language course, helping people communicate with the Deaf and non-verbal more effectively..

In addition, accessibility.com, a platform that brings guidelines and awareness to disabilities and news, declares that of the 48 million people in the U.S with hearing loss, less than 500,000 — about 1% — use sign language. This is a problem because those who can benefit most from learning ASL do not have the opportunity to learn, leading them to feel neglected and unable to communicate

According to Northern Star, an independent organization from Northern Illinois University, ASL is the fifth most used language in the United States, with about 35 million people in the U.S. experiencing some degree of hearing impairment. By providing ASL classes, students will not only have the opportunity to learn sign language, but also learn about the deaf and non-verbal community. Moreover, learning ASL will create an environment of empathy, building a future generation of educated men and women working to make society more inclusive. 

To shed some light on the situation, according to ASLdeafined, over 1,000 public high schools nationwide offer American Sign Language courses. This showcases some progress. However, this does not mean the fight is over. 

Most students in public schools still do not have access to ASL classes. By giving students the opportunity to learn ASL before they go out into the real world, they will be able to understand and empathize with ASL-using community members. The deaf and hearing impaired are like everyone else and they deserve to be heard.