Sign language should be taught to all school kids


Maci Best, Ad Designer

Sitting in a crowded restaurant, a woman waits for her friends to arrive while examining the menu. She doesn’t make conversation with anyone and she never looks up when the surrounding customers’ chairs screech against the tile floor. When the waitress finally approaches her, she shakes her head and points at her ears, not knowing that the waitress is now screaming at the top of her lungs in an attempt to make her hear her. It was impossible though; the women is deaf.

Interactions such as this one happen everyday and have become a natural occurrence for a large majority of the deaf population. If everyone was required to learn basic American Sign Language (ASL) in school, this problem would become close to non-existent. Just a little extra effort to study this beautiful, connecting language could revolutionize the relationship between the deaf and hearing worlds.

A large majority of people have been isolated to the fact that ASL is used by hundreds of thousands of people across the country. According to a study done at Gallaudet University, ASL ranks as high as the third most used language in the United States, yet it’s still not being taught in all American schools. There is no reason why schools are limited to languages such as Spanish and French when there is a whole group of people just around the corner who also deserve to be heard.

ASL is an intricate, beautiful language that is not impossible to learn. If the basics are taught, hearing people would be able to respectfully help a signing deaf person at any time because they are prepared by what was taught in school. Also, the language itself opens many other doors in the career world as well. Imagine if no one could speak a popular language in a government building, restaurant, or even the doctor’s office. Life would be much more difficult.

Take a few steps in their shoes. There is no choice, this is not a difference in gender or race. These are not foreigners or outcasts; these are people who are being forced to be seen separate from society. The real issue here is the language barrier that has prohibited progress despite the simple solution: give students the opportunity to learn this language, or the communication will stay separate from the deaf community forever.