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Recently, there was an article about inclusion of American Sign Language in the mainstream classroom in a school in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Students with hearing impairments were being taught through lip reading and through a certified teacher of the Deaf using American Sign Language (ASL) in a mainstream classroom. There was also an interpreter in the classroom to further assist the students with hearing impairments. Interestingly, these students with hearing impairments were not native English speakers so they had learned at home, sign language that was from their native countries, which is not the same as the signs learned in ASL. However, the interpreter, teacher for the Deaf, and the students with hearing impairments were working together to communicate. Teaching ASL in this way to students with hearing impairments, in the same classroom as those students without hearing impairments, helps alleviate the feeling of social isolation among students who are hearing impaired. Students who have hearing aids or cochlear implants still may not hear well enough and by learning to speak in addition to learning ASL, they in effect become bilingual. Offering ASL to students who do not have hearing impairments broadens their knowledge by learning a second language. The multi-sensory nature of ASL also benefits students with learning disabilities, such as Autism, speech and language delays or impediments, cognitive deficits, difficulties with pronunciations, intonations, or conjugation of grammar, central auditory processing, dyslexia, etc. and it allows students to communicate, to learn a language, and it can also assist with alleviating social isolation with these students as well. ASL is a broad reaching language that can be taught to many segments of the population and it can encourage and nourish acceptance and friendships among students with or without hearing impairments and students with or without disabilities.
I am currently working on a proposed Bill that would require schools in New Jersey to recognize American Sign Language as a world language and to require schools, not to pay for it, but to offer the option for high school students to take classes in American Sign Language and to receive credits toward fulfilling their world language high school graduation requirements. Please let me know your comments and feedback about this and other topics discussed in my blog. For more information about this and other important topics, please contact our law firm at info@WarshawLawFirm.com or at (973) 433-2121