"Zapotec. Azeri. Hittite. Yoruba. Old Norse. Quechua. These are all languages you can learn [this quarter] at UCLA.
Don’t worry if you do not recognize any of these names; Microsoft Word doesn’t know most of them either. Yet the list of more than 50 languages taught at UCLA has a glaring omission in that American Sign Language is not on it." - Asad Ramzanali, Daily Bruin, 2010
ASL is used widely across the United States, and some sources state it is arguably the third most used (non-English) language in the United States. It is also "reportedly a primary language in Barbados, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, China (Hong Kong), Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, Togo, and Zimbabwe." A University that advertises a great diversity of languages (including those not spoken anymore) should have one as essential as ASL. The demand is built in, and the cultural education that comes with it will help fight audism (discrimination against the Deaf). ASL will offer students the chance to understand Deaf culture, communicate with people efficiently, and make an important stride in not only fighting discrimination, but expanding educational and career opportunities for students.
Our goal is to have our voices as students heard; we want ASL 4-6. Not just a pilot program. Not just 1-3. An ASL program. Most of us don't have 2 years to wait for a pilot program to die out and have the coordinators revisit it. For a lot of us, it's not just a class. It's a part of our lives.
Please offer an ASL 4-6 program at UCLA. ASL 1-3 isn't sufficient enough to test for the success of the students' proficiency in the language; the true program should extend to 4-6 to be able to see the full success of the program and test the students. Also, as in any language, 1-3 isn't enough for communication with those in the real world; 4-6 would provide students with true ASL (as opposed to the more English based forms beginners tend to rely on), and incorporate skills they'd need to develop to communicate with those in the Deaf community.
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