When I did my research for the ASL program at the university where I teach, I was looking into how we would set up ASL program to expand in the future. Approximately 27 colleges I looked at, whether it was a two- or four-year program, it was interesting to see what departments ASL would be placed into.
I recently had a discussion with another local university about a grant they wanted to apply for that will aid deaf students to get into fields of science, technology, engineering and math. During that discussion, the idea of having ASL classes there was brought up. The first thing the person talked about was that the Foreign Language department did not consider ASL as a language and the Education department was willing to pick up ASL and make it available to all students. At Purdue U. Calumet last academic year, there was objections to how ASL was placed and favored upon. At PUC, the education majors can the courses but not other students (although some have sneaked in) and it is not on the main campus, where the majority of deaf students are, but at an adjunct campus, about some 20 miles south.
Most of the colleges or universities either offer ASL through English/ASL Interpretation, Communications, or Education. It is rare to find ASL in Foreign Languages (whether known as Modern Languages or World Languages) at the college level. I find it fascinating that I can find ASL classes in 'Communication Disorders Department (or some kind of category). In some universities, you can find ASL classes offered through the Audiology Department.
At Purdue U. Calumet, the reasons why ASL is not offered in Foreign Language or open for any students (except for Education majors) is:
This is the probably the same rationale that most Foreign Language Departments use to 'excuse' ASL from being included. This is despite the Modern Language Association counting ASL as one of the many languages being taught K-12 and in colleges/universities. There is a fourth one but I cannot seem to find that one reason, when I find it, I will add it to the list.
I will expound on the three mistaken statements in the next three weeks.
Modern Language Association: www.mla.org
This is their latest survey regarding languages being taught other than English, in 2009: http://www.mla.org/pdf/2009_enrollment_survey_pr.pdf
On a side note, I am curious to know if anyone teaching or specializing in ASL has attended the MLA conventions?
To Be Whole
Currently I am an ASL teacher at a local college and at an high school. I received my Masters in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University. At home, I am an activist within the community, Northwest Indiana. My son is in first grade and my daughter goes to E.C.L.I.P.S.E. ASL Preschool. Change begins with you and change is effective with a team.