Where is ASL in the classroom?

Kaitlyn Burdine, Reporter

Washington may be flourishing in the deaf community by teaching 150 high schools ASL, but Indiana only offers ASL in 30 high schools out of the 1,925 high schools in the state, according to an article from Mt. Vernon High School’s website.

NAHS used to be among those high schools, but hasn’t been the last few years.

“It isn’t necessarily a common language,” senior Michael Semar said. “There is a possibility I may run into someone who speaks ASL but it’s less likely opposed to the languages NAHS does teach.”

Many people feel the same as Semar and don’t see the point in teaching a language students may never encounter. However, at least 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization.That means that five percent of the world’s population could communicate through ASL and it is very likely that at least one of them will try to communicate with students in the long run. Although ASL isn’t an uncommon language, it is an uncommon employment option.

“The teacher retired and they couldn’t really find anybody to replace her,” French teacher Mr. Jacobi said. “She only offered ASL one and ASL two and worked here half time.”

There isn’t really a specific reason for the lack of teachers in the ASL community except for the fact that many people don’t have the opportunity to learn it.

Although people could major in the language during college, they wouldn’t know if they really have an interest because they couldn’t take it in high school.

“Most people who do know ASL would probably be an interpreter rather than a teacher,” Jacobi said. “You’d make a lot more money that way. The teacher who taught ASL here even worked as an Interpreter and only taught here on the side.”

The average salary an ASL teacher makes a year is $36,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Indeed. On the other hand, the average salary an interpreter makes a year is $50,610 as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I’m not sure why ASL isn’t as credible as German or Spanish, it has a culture and it’s a completely different language to learn,” junior Trinity Bobbitt said. “Though I’m not sure why, it all goes back to it not being very popular and people just don’t seem to care as much.”

Unlike what Semar said, Bobbitt blatantly states that it’s just not a popular language. However, ASL is said to be the sixth most used language in the US, according to a Gallaudet University study.

“There seems to be little to no room to incorporate anything that falls outside of Common Core’s curriculum,” the author of an article on The Odyssey, SUNY Geneseo said. “As a nation, though, there are certain things that need to be taught to our children whether or not they are included in a government-made educational system. American Sign Language is one of those things.”