Learning ASL in High School


Emma Wenerowicz

Student Star in the world language hallway, ready to get a sign language class here at BASH!

American sign language is a natural language shared by deaf communities to communicate with each other. This language is visual and is used by employing both manual and non-manual features. Although this language was made for the deaf community to communicate, it is a great language for hearing individuals to learn. There are many benefits to learning ASL, as it is a great way to break barriers between hearing and non-hearing people.

Star Pierce is a sophomore at Boyertown; she is deaf in her left ear and has learned sign language from her non-hearing uncle in order to communicate with him and other people in the deaf community. Star explains that people in the deaf community have trouble talking to those who don’t understand the language and it creates stressful situations when you have no one to ask or turn to when needing assistance in a social setting. When shopping at a local grocery store, Star ran into an older gentleman who was deaf and used ASL to talk; and she was able to help him with his question. Star was very grateful that she could help someone and talk to him when no one else understood him. At that moment, Star realized that this language barrier was an important issue.

Star would like to see Boyertown offer an ASL course. It’s her belief that this could be a great way to raise awareness of the deaf community and how ASL can be used in social settings. In order to start a course like this, Star would need to show that people are interested in learning ASL. If Star is able to run this course, it could be available to join as early as 2025.

There are many benefits to learning new languages, and sign language can be one of them! Star mentioned a great point that as someone gets older their hearing starts to weaken, and knowing a language that can be used with those of hard hearing is good to know when these difficulties start to appear. Another benefit of learning ASL is how it looks great on college applications, as it is unique and a language that is becoming very popular.

Montgomery County Community College even has a sign language program to develop a fundamental vocabulary and knowledge of grammar structures needed to help them communicate effectively. This program also introduces students to deaf culture in the United States.

Adding this kind of course in high schools is a great way to expand the education of this language by creating a way for students to learn about communicating with non-hearing peers.