American Sign Language, ASL, has gathered much attention in today’s society with students wanting to learn, but unfortunately Keene State College does not offer any form of ASL courses.
I have met many students who wanted to take ASL as either a major or a minor and came to KSC thinking that there were courses available to them because that is what they heard.
Relying on hearsay may not have been the best option, but that is a different issue. Many of these students are majoring in education and since education majors have to double major, many wanted to incorporate ASL in the classroom.
Take freshman Carli Dion for example. Her life has always involved ASL because her mother taught it to special needs children. She learned it in first and second grade and her sister took it in college. She was told that KSC offered ASL courses. “I was so excited to take ASL in college because I always wanted to integrate it in my classroom one day. I can’t even explain how disappointed I was and still am to find out I will have to settle for another major,” Dion said.
I personally have been learning some signs from a friend who took it in high school, but I only know basic sentences and songs. It is very hard to schedule our times around each other for her to help me learn so it would be beneficial if KSC offered the classes.
There are many benefits to learning ASL, the same benefits that come with learning any language. Students will have a chance to learn a whole different culture because the deaf community is like a whole other society.
Many do not realize that the deaf community is just as different to the hearing community as is the English community to the Spanish. They have their own beliefs that differ from the hearing, such as the belief that deafness is a difference in human experience rather than a disability. Many people in the deaf community do not like implants or hearing aids because they prefer sign language. Learning about the deaf community is one of the first things a student learns when taking ASL.
Another benefit of learning ASL is being bilingual in a language that has a growing demand for interpreters. There is a very large deaf community in the U.S. and to be able to offer that community more hearing individuals who can sign will make communication better between these two communities.
Understanding that ASL deserves to be a part of the many languages KSC offers is something I think this school does not know. Students demand it, it has cultural values, and it can further help the interactions between the hearing and the deaf.
River Valley Community College on Washington St. does offer ASL for beginners but unfortunately their classes do not go past the first course. There are plenty of online videos that try to teach ASL, but it is very hard to learn a language when it is informal instead of personal.
It would be beneficial for KSC to offer the classes so students can pursue their dreams of learning this language without having to travel to another college or attempt to learn it online.
Kaitlin Coogan can be contacted at