Tiffany Caprarella

A Language Credit for American Sign Language!

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Tiffany Caprarella
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UPDATE: After 9 years of discussion with the Ontario Ministry of Education, the ministry has not yet issued course codes for ASL as a language of study in Ontario schools. The former Minister of Education issued a formal letter in 2009 stating that the standard set of 16 course codes would be released with the revised International Languages Curriculum. Instead they issued only one introductory open level course code 2 years ago and have not provided any additional codes or explanation since.
We need to make sure they know how important this is to us. Please sign the petition to ensure future students have access to ASL as a language of study in Ontario schools, and affirm equal standing among the other 74 listed International Languages.
Clarification: The following is the original petition in its original language from 8 years ago. We have preserved the original language to honour the initial 200 signatures. The only significant thing that has changed in this time is that First Year ASL has finally been offered as an open level language course. Any additional years of study are not language credits and none of the courses yet have academic or university level recognition. Though the courses themselves remain rigorous, students are not yet receiving adequate academic recognition for continued study of a third language.
PETITION GOAL: We are asking the Ontario Ministry of Education for course codes that correspond with the curriculum for Classical and International Languages in order to grant a third language credit to students currently taking American Sign Language in Ontario Secondary Schools.
BACKGROUND: American Sign Language is a rich and complex language with its own grammar and syntax. It is internationally recognized in highly respected universities around the world including the University of Victoria, York University and Harvard University.
ISSUE: American Sign Language is currently offered for credit at a number of secondary schools across the province of Ontario. However, none of these secondary schools are able to recognize this credit as a third language credit for diploma purposes. Therefore, it is not currently recognized as a potential compulsory "Group 1" credit. It is also considered an "open" course. This prevents students from using the credit for entrance to colleges and universities and often discourages them from acquiring proficiency in the language during their high school years.
What we need is a set of course codes from the Ontario Ministry of Education that correspond with the curriculum for Classical and International Languages that would be effective retroactively to the fall of 2006. The ministry has shown interest in meeting this request, but it would be beneficial to demonstrate the support for the rightful recognition of American Sign Language as a language of study.
These course codes will not only acknowledge the hard academic work of students enrolled in American Sign Language classes, they will also provide a number of key benefits. Providing a language credit will increase the number of students enrolled in American Sign Language and encourage existing programs to grow. It will also allow new programs to start up around the province and naturally increase the number of people with signing fluency. More people with signing fluency means more potential for integration and communication in our schools and our society. It will increase job opportunities for those who are fluent in American Sign Language and provide opportunities for those who are learning to sign as well. It will also help to fill ASL professional shortages in our province and make our society a more inclusive and successful place for all people. In short, it will establish an equitable place for a minority language and create positive change. Please sign our friendly petition now and show your support!


This petition is sponsored by those who support the academic recognition of American Sign Language in Ontario schools.


NEW!!!! Recent News Articles on Deaf Education and ASL Related Provincial Topics: (Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynne, makes a special comment about ASL as a third language noted in the CBC article!!!) ASL LINGUISTICS: (These links provide academic research on the status of ASL as an authentic language.) AMERICAN STATE LEGISLATION RE: ASL AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE (This site describes the role 40 states have taken to recognize ASL as a language at the government level.) UNITED NATIONS POSITION ON ASL: ONTARIO CLASSICAL AND INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGES: (This curriculum has been adapted for a number of languages in the past in order to suit each languages structures and mediums appropriately. A detailed proposal for adaptation of this curriculum has been submitted to the ministry.) HIRING ASL TEACHERS: FINDING NORTH AMERICAN ASL UNIVERSITIES:
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