With growing need for ASL, LHS should consider adding an in-house option to coursebook


Freshman Gaby Alvarado signs hello. She is one of several students at LHS that advocates for the instruction in ASL. Photo by Bailie Stramer.

Bailie Stramer, Staff Reporter

More and more people are finding the need to use a form of sign language to communicate. Four percent of the population of younger people need to use American Sign Language (ASL), and most people ages 65 and up are becoming functionally deaf.  This means that thousands of Americans are depending on ASL to communicate. According to StartASL, there are approximately 500,000 ASL users in the United States.

With these numbers in mind, schools should have some sort of sign language classes, and lucky Liberty has one.

With around a half million people use American Sign Language as their main way to communicate. Many deaf people are adamant that sign language will always be essential, but state budget cuts limit schools that can teach it. With that being the case many agree that it should be a requirement because there aren’t many opportunities to be able to learn it. 

 “Yes it should be required because even with a class that doesn’t determine who will take it but if it was required then everyone would be able to have that chance to learn it and it will be useful for certain situations,” said Gaby Alvarado. 

Liberty offers the class currently using a virtual platform taught through Lord Fairfax Community College, but that should be changed to an in-building option. Students can take ASL I & II at LFCC, and it can count for two years of World Language credit towards an advanced studies diploma.

It’s not a required class and it costs money due to LFCC registration fees.  With these cost factors in mind, not everyone will take the class causing them in the future to potentially not to be able to communicate with a ASL-using person.

Studying and taking an ASL class not only helps you but it also helps deaf people and the hard to hearing community. You can develop a strong appreciation for deaf culture and can promote understanding and acceptance of the language just by taking the class. 

With people from Liberty already paying for things like parking and food for school there are certain people who can not pay for it. People all over the world can come across a deaf person and it could really be a negative experience not being able to communicate with them.

“Knowing people who have needed sign language and not being able to talk to them not only upsets me but it also upsets them,” said Victoria Oswald. 

Due to the lack of schools not making this a required class not only does it upset deaf people it also will affect generations coming forward in life.

“We should start young in this generation to provide the ability in the future to teach kids sign language and be fluent in it,” said Angely Gonzalez.

Many people may not see this as a big deal but for ASL-users it is.

It causes a vision of the lack of effort that we as people are putting in. Liberty should make this a required class, so younger generations will be fluent in it and be able to communicate. This will change the perspective some people have for ASL.

With many people who agree, Liberty should have this class requirement and it should happen sometime in the next few years to provide better communication amongst our deaf community.

Trying to learn yourself will take about three months to three years. With classes in high school it will provide the opportunity to make this process easier. 

 With Covid-19 still being a thing it is going to be harder to find community classes to learn ASL so it would be a perfect opportunity for high schools like Liberty to make it part of the offered curriculum.