No More Sign Language?

July 27, 2011 | 4:25 PM

State Impact (Indiana)
By Ben Skirvin

The New York Times reports on protest over proposed changes to the Indiana State School for the Deaf which could eventually lead to the elimination of American Sign Language in favor of technology.


Politicians have seen plenty of demonstrators outside the Statehouse here. But the crowd that gathered last month was a bit different from the usual shouting protesters.

Scores of deaf and hard-of-hearing children and their families assembled to complain in American Sign Language. Parents also have confronted new…

board members of the state’s school for the deaf in pointed,awkward exchanges. And more objections are expected when the board convenes next month for what had, until now, been ordinary meetings on routine school matters.

At the root of the tension is a debate that stretches well beyond Indiana: Will sign language and the nation’s separate schools for the deaf be abandoned as more of the deaf turn to communicating, with help from fast-evolving technology, through amplified sounds and speech?

Th Indiana School for the Deaf has special statute devoted to it’s existence, but the law doesn’t say anything about American Sign Language.  Actually, the law doesn’t say much of anything.  Leaving decisions about the future of ASL to the school board.

According to the Indiana School for the Deaf’s website, ASL is still featured at the elementary and middle school level.

State Impact

2 Comments to No More Sign Language?

  1. Diane H Jones
    July 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM |

    Very concerned about the lack of facts in this article.
    ASL is recognized as the Language of Instruction and English as the language for reading and writing.
    ASL is an official language in Indiana.
    Technology will never replace languages for expressing abstract feelings and thought.
    When a deaf person takes off their technology, they are still deaf and need a language.
    Why can’t we embrace all languages that are accessible?
    Who are we as hearing people to make these decisions for Deaf people?

  2. July 30, 2011 at 8:32 AM |

    Hearing people for many years still always make decisions for Deaf people. How many Deaf/deaf/HH people live in U.S.? Which states that still have the Deaf Club? How strong are the Deaf community now in the U.S.? ASL as foreign language in schools, colleges or universities in the U.S. become very weak. United becomes Divided. Deaf now like Babylon from the Bible..judges destroy our culture and languages to be with hearing people who force us to be part of the hearing World.

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