American Sign Language is a very important language to learn, and there are not enough schools that teach it. The only deaf school we have here in Montana is The Montana School for the Deaf and Blind. I think that if we have ASL in schools, we could help the deaf and hard-of-hearing community become better understood in our own community. I believe that it would not make them feel mainstreamed and out of place. We could definitely open up more job opportunities if more people knew ASL.
ASL is something I feel very passionate about. After I get out of high school, I want to be an interpreter. The only ways I've ever learned ASL is through YouTube, purchasing an ASL dictionary, and going to a short class in my community. Though I've learned quite a bit through these methods, my school does not offer ASL as a class. I believe that it should be taught in every school regardless, because you never know when the opportunity will come up to talk to someone of the deaf or hard-of-hearing community.
Honestly, if we spend the time to put deaf or hard-of-hearing into speech therapy, why can’t we have the hearing community learn sign language? I found an article on Deaf Culture Online that talked about a hearing teenage boy that knows sign language. He works at a fast food place, and whenever they get a deaf customer he is immediately pulled to the counter to take their order. It puts a smile on the deaf person’s face because they are able to communicate and order in their primary language. I believe that sign language is important and that it should be taught in all schools because of this reason. http://www.deaf-culture-online.com/sign-language.html
There are many benefits to learning ASL. You can better communicate with people, it can help mainstreamed deaf students to not feel isolated, and also in most states (not including my own), it is recognized as a foreign language. ASL is ranked fourth on the list of commonly studied languages in colleges behind Spanish, German, and French. 2.7% percent of people in the state of Montana are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Out of the total U.S. population, 13% are deaf or hard-of-hearing. http://libguides.gallaudet.edu/content.php?pid=119476&sid=1029190
My experiences with the deaf and hard-of-hearing are very limited, but if we put ASL in schools, it will open up a new opportunity to get to know those of that community.