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Why American Sign Language (ASL) Must be in All Grade-School Curriculums 

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. John's chapter.

In the United States, students are typically required to take a language class from middle school to high school graduation. The courses provided can be region-based to offer languages that are predominantly spoken in a student’s area.

Another viable option for children to learn is American Sign Language (ASL). Around 11 million people in the U.S. are deaf or have serious hearing loss; totaling around 3.6% of the U.S. population. 

Autumn Hill, an audiology major and president of the ASL club at St. John’s shared her insight. “I wouldn’t say ASL should be taught instead of other languages, but in addition to foreign language classes.” 

Autumn believes people outside the Deaf community are not equipped to interact with deaf and hard-of-hearing people. “In general, people are not aware of ASL and what it is. People don’t know what my club is, or they think it’s about Academic Service Learning for the First Year Seminar course.” 

Knowing how to sign ASL would also help people in their careers. Autumn noted that having the ability to sign can help with jobs and “It’s a great resumé builder!” 

Autumn later mentioned that the age at which hearing loss begins is becoming younger. Denise Laffitte López, Au.D. at the University of Miami Ear Institute is seeing more people in the 30-40 age bracket enter her clinic than before. Experts predict that within 40 years there will be a 13.3% increase in hearing loss for people between 20 and 29. 

Teaching ASL before entering higher education can uplift the Deaf community. Ariana Molina with Cal State Fullerton’s, The Daily Titan asserted that ASL is one of the most widely-used languages in the nation and is the fourth most-taught language in universities. Primary and secondary schools do not incorporate ASL into their curriculums, which furthers the language barriers for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Molina further argues that educators don’t think teaching ASL is essential because most deaf people utilize lip-reading, and this pressure shouldn’t be placed on the Deaf community.  

Communications Specialist Andrea Simpson, MS, CCC-A/SLP, states that there are many benefits to including ASL in grade-school curriculums, such as behavioral management, literacy progression, and promoting peer communication. Simpson also expressed that students learn in various ways. If teachers use sign language, they can promote quicker learning and achievement for all students. Learning ASL can also help children grasp phonics and vocabulary; proving it instrumental in grade-school English classrooms. 

We must be able to connect with the millions of deaf Americans who use ASL and have had to enter uninclusive spaces with no accommodations or awareness. If ASL is incorporated into grade-school curriculums, all Americans can become more effective communicators.

Caitlyn Oviedo

St. John's '25

Hi, I'm Caitlyn! I'm a junior journalism student at St. John's University. I am passionate about women's rights and intersectionality. My hobbies include reading, writing, and watching a lot of tv.