American Sign Language to fulfill modern language requirement at Ball State

<p>Three hands sign the letters "B," "S" and "U." American Sign Language is now a class that can fulfill Ball State's modern language requirement. <strong>JACOB MUSSELMAN, DN ILLUSTRATION</strong></p>

Three hands sign the letters "B," "S" and "U." American Sign Language is now a class that can fulfill Ball State's modern language requirement. JACOB MUSSELMAN, DN ILLUSTRATION

Come fall 2019, students will have another course option to choose from when it comes to fulfilling the modern language requirement. 

The Department of Special Education sent out an email to students informing them that American Sign Language (ASL) was “recently approved to satisfy the Bachelor of Arts (BA) modern language requirement.” The email said the department would offer a new ASL minor and a revised deaf studies minor.

David McIntosh, department chair of special education, said the department was able to fill a full-time faculty position in January. 

“I think we knew we were going to have that demand,” McIntosh said. “[We were] a little surprised that we were going to have this much demand.” 

McIntosh said the department was working with administrators  to find ways to meet the demand. He also said one of his ideas was to hire adjunct professors. 

“I think one of the biggest struggles we are going to have is finding instructors who are fluent in ASL,” McIntosh said. 

Zoe Harvey, senior deaf education major, said she thinks it’s important for students to know ASL because it is not always seen as a language even though it has its own grammar structure. 

“I think it’s best to educate the community on the fact that this is a language and these people matter,” Harvey said. “Those in the deaf community who use American Sign Language have every single right to be able to communicate with those around them as someone who uses a foreign language.”

Today, ASL is the sixth most-used language in America, according to Gallaudet University.


Harvey said she chose to be a deaf education major because she "fell in love with the culture and the community" after three girls who were deaf joined the swim team she was coaching.

McIntosh said that there is a need for people in different careers who need to know how to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Harvey said he encourages interested students to sign up for a class as being able to interpret ASL will give students "one more step into [the deaf] community."

"We need more hearing advocates and allies for the deaf community," Harvey said. "You get that chance by learning the language." 

Contact Scott Fleener with comments at jsfleener@bsu.edu or on Twitter @Scott_Reports.

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