Sign language classes: enhance communication in our community: Fostering inclusivity and speaking volumes with only your hands

Rebecca Charno, Contributing Writer

In the past, Schreiber offered an American Sign Language (ASL) class. However, this class was removed from the curriculum years ago. It is a shame that this class is no longer offered, and this important skill should be re-introduced to our school and community.

Firstly, this class would help students who are willing to dedicate the time to this special language to differentiate themselves from other students. This will give them a potentially greater appeal to colleges and even to future employers. This would also help to grow the sign language-speaking community at Schreiber, which would be a positive way to support and communicate with hearing impaired students.

The presence of an ASL class at Schreiber would allow students who use sign language to feel more included. From here, this is a trend that could perhaps spread to the Port Washington community and hopefully to every school in Long Island.

“I think that this class taught kids a skill that is different from a math equation or the formula for an element. It is a language that will guide people to make new friends and connect with people they normally would not be able to connect with,” said freshman Kevin Nadolne.

The idea of teaching a student a life skill, not something they will forget in a year or two, will further enhance the Schreiber community.  The ASL class would provide students with an invaluable skill: the ability to connect.

“It’s a useful skill. We should have it offered as an elective,” said senior Allison Khin.

Knowing sign language can also lead students to pursue a variety of different careers, such as sign language interpreters, audiologists, and speech language pathologists. It could also guide students towards other, less obvious careers, such as social workers, child care workers, or psychologists. Either way, having this skill will be a great contribution to a student’s variety of talents after graduating high school and even beyond.

“I think it would be really cool to offer sign language as a class. It’s really useful for later in life and can help people communicate in any professional field when they get older,” said junior Lauren Seltzer.

There are currently around 500,000 to one million people in the United States alone who rely solely on sign language to communicate. As a language that so many people clearly utilize, sign language should be treated with the same respect and emphasis as others that are taught and studied in the Foreign Language department.

Classes such as this can help individuals who may feel disadvantaged due to a physical disability to feel better integrated into our school’s community, which is undoubtedly a goal for students and administrators. There are currently 20 schools in New York that do promote such inclusivity by offering a sign language course.

“If other schools are offering it, and there are so many individuals who rely on it, why not? said senior Charlie Lynch.

There is an even greater number of colleges, including the University of Rochester and Ohio State University that offer sign language courses. If a sign language course was offered in Schreiber, it would not only give students a chance to learn the basics of sign language, but could also encourage more advanced study in college.

“As a freshman, I hope to graduate Schreiber with new and interesting skills that will set me apart from others. I believe that sign language solidifies as one of these important skills,” said freshman Charles Dash. In the future if I want to apply for a job where sign language could be used, it will make my employer see me as a better fit than someone who does not have this skill. I hope to see this class brought back to Schreiber sometime before I graduate.”

Not only will this class enhance the Schreiber community, but it will also improve the Port Washington community as a whole. By expanding our skill set, we can help to make this a reality.

“I’m definitely not sure what I want to be when I grow up quite yet. No matter what I decide to do though, I want to be able to interact with anyone that I meet,” said junior Sally Fried.

Since students in elementary school get taught simple sign language skills, why not have more of these classes offering in high school? Similar to music and art classes, there are students who develop a passion for this subject and offering sign language courses at a high level would foster these interests.

This class can serve as an elective or even as a language requirement for students and should be offered all four years of high school. By allowing students to complete their language requirements in such a fun and interesting way, the general study of language will be promoted.