Sign language courses should fulfill language credits
As American Sign Language is a way – and sometimes the only way – people can communicate, Syracuse University should consider offering ASL as a language course, and not just as an education course.
Two ASL classes are offered in the School of Education, rather than the language department in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students have petitioned for the course to count toward the language requirement, said Teresa Gavagan, an ASL professor.
But students should not have to go through this process just to take a language course.
SU appears to be very accommodating of those who are deaf and need to use sign language to communicate with others. The American Sign Language Club at SU is supported by the Disability Cultural Center, a unit within the Division of Student Affairs. The club works with community members, but wants to pull in more students.
But the university seems to be much less accommodating of those who wish to learn ASL.
It will be hard for the club to pull in more students for events if students cannot learn the language needed to fully interact at the club’s events. The two classes offered in the School of Education fill up quickly and often leave students closed out.
ASL is not much different from other language courses at SU. Although many may often think of foreign languages as languages from other countries, foreign can also refer to unfamiliarity. Like any other language, learning sign language stimulates the brain and is a valuable skill set for students to have.
To create a more inclusive and well-rounded community, the university must consider expanding the ASL classes so they count toward the language requirement.
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