Apr 192005
Authors: Tara Land

American Sign Language is the third-most commonly used language in the United States. However, ASL was not added as a class in the CSU foreign languages and literatures department until fall 2004.

The first ASL class was a success, and its popularity and high demand have called for more.

"ASL II class is in the process of becoming an experimental class in the foreign language department right now," wrote Rob Gerk, president of the CSU Sign Club, in an e-mail interview. "The goal is to make it a permanent part of the CSU curriculum."

If the ASL II class is as successful as the first, more changes will be made to the curriculum to include sign language.

"They have been working on (ASL II) as an experimental course. It got submitted for approval (in early April)," said Carol Hughes, administrative assistant in the foreign language and literatures office. "We may eventually turn it into a permanent course, which is what we did with the experimental course in Arabic."

Arabic also started as a pilot course and has since been added to the permanent curriculum.

Jenny Miller and Dede Kliewer are the co-teachers of ASL I. A deaf teacher is being sought to teach ASL II, which Kliewer said has been approved and will begin in the fall.

"Pretty soon we'll be advertising for a deaf instructor, which will really establish the credibility of CSU's sign language classes," Gerk, a junior financial real estate major wrote. "If that becomes a success, then I'll push for funding for a level-three class for the next school year."

The popularity of the ASL class could be a result of the usefulness of sign knowledge.

"There are a lot of people who can use ASL in their majors," said Kliewer, who is also coordinator of interpreting services for Resources for Disabled Students. "For example, a doctor could use it for communicating with patients or someone could use it in social work for the same purpose."

Both ASL I and II will be offered during the 2005-2006 school year as a five-credit course, five days a week and can count as foreign language credits.

By adding ASL to the foreign language department, "It can gain credibility as a language," Kliewer said. "It has its own grammar and syntax just like every other language."

Gerk will continue to push for ASL classes at CSU throughout his college career.

"I hope to permanently incorporate the sign language classes into the CSU curriculum despite the budget cuts and limited funding from outside committees," Gerk wrote.

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