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March 1, 2005

House passes bill designating sign language as foreign language

From: WHNT, AL - Mar 1, 2005

MONTGOMERY, Ala. The Alabama House has passed a bill to make American Sign Language an official foreign language in Alabama schools. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The president of the Alabama Association for the Deaf, Judith Gilliam, says the legislation would make it easier for deaf students to achieve advanced high school and college degrees, which often require a student to take a foreign language. She spoke through an interpreter, using sign language.

Advocates for the deaf say it is hard for them to learn a traditional spoken foreign language like French or Spanish because they can't hear the words.

Representative Craig Ford of Gadsden sponsored the bill. He says there are more than 35 thousand deaf Alabama residents who use American Sign Language.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.