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October 4, 2004

Sign Language course popular with many students

From: KHOU (subscription), TX - Oct 4, 2004

By Jason Whitely / 11 News

Taking foreign language in high school is no longer just Spanish, French, German and Latin.

A handful of districts now offer Sign Language, but not Alief Independent School District.

That very course is the focus of a four-year fight between one student and administrators.

Honor Roll is a way of life for Allison Taylor. At 17, she's learning Spanish, her third language.

Pretty impressive considering she's hearing impaired and has to read lips.

But she complains Spanish is a waste of time.

"Taking Spanish, there's no point to it because I'm reading and writing it, but I'm not speaking it. How can I communicate with a Spanish speaking person? I'll have to write it down. Show it to them. They write back. You communicate by talking," said Taylor.

Instead, Allison wants her foreign language to be Sign Language.

Alief I.S.D. advertises it on its Web site, but her parents said classes never materialize.

"We've never asked the district for anything. And they've always been extremely good on taking care of her. But this one issue that everybody agrees 'Yeah, we should do it.' But nobody will do it," said Ron Taylor, Allison's father.

Sign Language as a foreign language is pretty popular in other school districts. H.I.S.D. offers it. Fort Bend said it has more than 1,000 students enrolled. Clear Creek even has three levels. But in Alief, aside from Allison Taylor, the district says it can't find much interest.

Alief I.S.D. sent 11 News a statement saying it randomly surveyed students at Elsik High School. The results showed that 53 percent weren't interested in it as a foreign language and 70 percent are not interested in it at all.

"I think that is definitely not true. ASL (American Sign Language) is definitely quite popular. I have many friends that are interested," said Taylor.

Maybe so, but Allison doesn't know what else to do to keep her pleas to the district from falling on deaf ears.

© 2004, Belo Interactive