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Budget Cuts Silence The Deaf
There are one million deaf people in the United States, only a few schools in North Carolina offer an American Sign Language class to their students. Davie County High School is one of the few that, saw the need for the class. Now, however, it seems like people have forgotten the class’ importance and in a recent group of budget cuts, it was decided that ASL would not be offered to students next year. “It almost feels like they are forgetting ASL,” said ASL I student Brandon Hendricks.
This news is very upsetting for several different people, particularly for those in their first semester of ASL. To get into a four year year college after graduation, students need two full semesters of the same foreign language. It is still being determined if a way for them to get in their final semester will be offered. Several students have tried other languages in the past and were unable to retain any of it. Certain students seem to be able to pick up ASL easier than other languages; their brains just work with the visual aspect better than the spoken. “This class was my last option since since I failed Spanish before. I need to have my next semester of ASL,” said ASL I student Sydnee Coleman.
There are also some who take the class not just to fill a requirement but to learn how to better communicate with deaf people in their lives. People with family members who are deaf know the struggle of getting their meaning across; the arduous task of writing back and forth will do the job but it is so much faster if both parties can communicate using one language. “I decided to take ASL because I have deaf people in my family that I wanted to be able to communicate with, and I thought it was a beautiful language,” said ASL II student Blake Rummage.
Communication and understanding are the key here. Deaf people have their own culture, their own world, and and in this class, students learn more than signing; they learn empathy; they learn what deaf people go through everyday. It isn't the type of class where something is learned once and never used again; students constantly use their skills, in and out of class. Is that not a good enough reason to keep this class going? “A deaf man came into the restaurant where where I work. None of the other servers knew sign language so I was the one who served him, something I would not have been able to do without the class,” said ASL I student Makinze Nicole Hannah.
Those in the class are often amazed by what they learn, they are awed by their progress, more so than they are in other classes. Students in the class can often be seen signing in the halls, or in their other classes, mixing signs into their speech, excited to demonstrate their new knowledge. Many students even find their interest going further, discovering career opportunities such as interpreting, teaching deaf children, or even do audiology. It is hard to imagine that in just a few short years no one will be signing at Davie High any more, that there will be fewer and fewer students interested in working with the deaf. “ I was very excited to take the class, and and I could not wait to be able to sign with my friends currently in it. Now I won't get the opportunity,” said Marlie Stanberry.
Davie High needs American Sign Language. It goes beyond just getting into college, it shows them more than just how to communicate with the deaf, it gives them a larger view of the world. It opens the door from the hearing world into the deaf world. It gives students a way to understand that deaf people are more than just their ears, that they are people just like anyone else. Deaf people can be actors, they can be teachers, they can be lawyers, just like hearing people. This class shows that, this class helps students understand. “ I was very upset when I heard the news. The class was very helpful; it teaches you how to communicate with people who are different than you are, people you never knew,” said Sacoreya Nichols.
It is our hope that the Davie County Board of Education will find it in their budget and hearts to continue the ASL program at Davie County High School. We consider this essential.
ASL I student
Davie County High School