"The one thing we fear the most, the loss of our language, American Sign Language." Tom Humphries, Through Deaf Eyes film
Is this not true of any minority language? Latin was once the tongue of many countries and was replaced by French, German and now England. Latin is all but dead.
There are opponents to multilingual users, believing in a one language nation or even further, one language global.
Most people forget one factor, humans are not static. The thought processes that make us humans, the ability to adapt to social situations and responses to physical stresses is the one of the few reasons why we have so many languages in this world. Even if one would strive for one global language, it is a guarantee that when people go back to their home communities, variations of the global language will vary due to local influences, types of cultures, or even religion.
The use of language is deeply entrenched in human culture. Therefore, in addition to its strictly communicative uses, language also has many social and cultural uses, such as signifying group identity, social stratification, as well as for social grooming and entertainment. ~Language; Wikipedia
So what would we have to fear most when it comes to our own languages, especially the minority ones is the insensitivity from society's major language users. English, for instance, came from Germanic tribes somewhere in the vicinity of 7th, 8th centuries. It did not reach the current majority of language use until the 20th century. Technology is another factor for deaf people, yet also has some positive consequences.
"As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have signs. And as long as we have our films, we can preserve signs in their old purity. It is my hope that we will all love and guard our beautiful sign language as the noblest gift God has given to deaf people."--George Veditz, 1913
So even with the popularity of ASL in high school and colleges, ASL is still denied to our deaf children. Ironic is it not?
Is it still our gift and do we still have this niggling sense of loss, especially within our communities and in education?
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.