American Sign Language is not standard in any school curriculum. Rather, it is offered as an elective course, lumped in with foreign languages.
The fact is, ASL is the third most commonly used language in the United States, after English and Spanish, StoryLearning reports. Approximately more than a half-million people throughout the U.S. use ASL to communicate as their native language.
People who are deaf, mute, and on the spectrum, use ASL to communicate and interact with others, but they are not the only people who make use of ASL, KBIA reports.
Being proficient in ASL allows others without hearing issues to communicate with a wide range of hearing, hard of hearing, and deaf individuals—including students in mainstream and deaf school or university programs, as well as deaf or hard of hearing residents and business people, according to Lead With Languages. ASL also improves the quality of family communication for hearing people with deaf or hard of hearing family members.
Scientific study indicates that parents who teach their infants sign language are often able to communicate more quickly with their children.
Children can benefit from learning sign language while in elementary school, whether they are deaf or hearing impaired, Deaf Linx reports. Having ASL taught to both the deaf and hearing students fosters communication within the schools. The sooner children are exposed to sign language, the more fluent they have the potential to become.
Starting or continuing the study of sign language in high school prepares students follow through in college, becoming a sign language interpreter, speech language pathologist, or psychologist, The Best Schools reports.
Teaching sign language in both elementary and high schools can help to bolster communication between students, and prevent mainstreamed deaf students from feeling isolated at their schools, a study published in Social Service Review, reports.
Several states throughout the country have begun to recognize ASL as a foreign language, which makes it easier to justify the teaching of sign language in schools.
One school in Milwaukee has created an environment where every child attending the school will take sign language, which makes it easy for the deaf and hearing students to interact with each other, the Milwaukee Sign Language School reports.
Other high schools like in Temecula, California have growing sign language programs with up to three years of sign language offered. The classes also teach about deaf culture. This gives the students the opportunity to understand the challenges the deaf community faces, and the opportunity to become advocates in the program.
School board members and the Department of Education can also choose to make ASL an option in American schools. But that may not happen without some encouragement.
Click below to help Americans of all ages by asking for greater access to ASL resources and education in school.Whizzco