IM this article to a friend!

December 10, 2002

Excerpts from editorials in Florida newspapers

From: Sarasota Herald-Tribune, FL - 10 Dec 2002

By The Associated Press

Here are excerpts from editorials in newspapers in Florida:

Dec. 5

Orlando Sentinel, on sign language is not a foreign-language substitute:

As more and more high-school students sign up for sign-language classes, Florida lawmakers need to reconsider their 1990 decision to let students use American Sign Language to meet public universities' foreign-language requirement.

At the time, few students were taking sign-language courses. That's not the case today. As a recent Orlando Sentinel article detailed, almost 9,200 Florida students took sign-language courses last spring - a 478 percent increase over eight years.

The mushrooming popularity of sign language should give lawmakers pause. Those students aren't taking the course because many more employers are begging for sign-language skills, or because the deaf population in this nation has burgeoned. Many students just think that ASL is easier than a foreign language.

Proponents of ASL argue that it isn't easy at all, that it is a complex visual language with its own grammatical structure. That may be so, but American Sign Language is not a foreign language. It reflects only the American culture, albeit a subset of that culture. Despite the benefits of learning what it is like to communicate as a deaf person, students don't come away from the class with an appreciation of another country and its literature, or of this nation's ethnic diversity.

Moreover, the demand for their signing skills isn't as great in the marketplace as the demand for bilingual workers.

American Sign Language belongs as an elective course, not as a way out of learning a foreign language.


© Sarasota Herald-Tribune. All rights reserved.