Should American Sign Language Be Taught in High Schools?


Isabella Terzoli, Senior Writer

In 2010, 10% of the people 28 million people on Earth experienced hearing loss or were born deaf, yet the language is still not taught in many high schools. Learning sign language would be beneficial to both deaf people and non-deaf people.

Recently some students around Dana Middle School have been communicating through American Sign Language (ASL). These students are learning through a book, or from whatever resources they can find online. It would be better for the students if they could learn it in a classroom.

Considering high schools make it mandatory to learn a language if you want to graduate, shouldn’t high schools have the option of learning ASL? High schools would be able to offer more of a formal language training to those students who want to learn it. Learning sign language in high school can prepare you to continue studying it in college and making a career out of it as a sign language interpreter.

Some may argue that learning spanish is more beneficial. Learning Spanish is beneficial in more ways than one, but lots of people know Spanish already. There are other languages listed to learn in highschool, but those languages (French and Italian) would not be beneficial unless you plan on moving to Italy or France.

STEAM 8th grader Savannah Garrit says, “I started learning ASL last year. I do think this should be taught in high school and I would take those classes because I think it would be useful for people to know.” And STEAM 8th grader Tessa Illescas says, “It would be cool to learn next year because it would be useful. I started to learn in 6th grade but stopped and this year I started again recently.”

A speech therapist named Jamie Rollino states, “…the reason there isn’t much sign language anymore in school is because a lot of deaf children who are born these days get a procedure called the cochlear implant. When children get this surgery at a young age- they get access to sound and therefore are less likely to need to sign language. So I don’t think sign language is as relevant these days. A movie that addresses this debate is called ‘Sound and Fury’ where a lot of people think sign language is ‘dying’”

8th grader Lorelei Dalton has created a petition to get ASL started in high school, she says “I know that people want to learn and you have to take action to get things done. The school doesn’t offer ASL for students who need it or want to learn.” She has also said “We need to be able to break the communication barriers between the hearing and the deaf.”

Deaf people are real people, and they are everywhere. They have the right to proper communication.

People who teach sign language have been trying to make a point of ASL being a foreign language, (or a real language) especially because there is a unique grammar structure involved.

ASL is the third most used language in the United States. Learning ASL in high school can boost communication between students and prevent deaf students from feeling left out. ASL does count as an A-G requirements for high school.  Would you be interested in helping us break the communication walls by learning American Sign Language as your necessary foreign language in high school?