(201) Health 2022 Edition | Page 12

The value of teaching ASL to hearing students , Romoff says , is it can “ allow some rudimentary communication with people who do use sign language ,” and it also creates “ awareness of a community of people who use this visual language .”
Romoff notes that most deaf people do not use sign language , but use assistive listening systems , captioning , hearing aids and cochlear implants .
The Mountain Lakes school district includes the Lake Drive School founded in 1969 for deaf and hard-of-hearing students . Because its students are integrated into mainstream classrooms as well as after-school sports and activities , all students take a semester of ASL in eighth grade and can continue on to three levels of ASL in high school .
“ At the third level , students are required to attend at least one deaf event , such as deaf bowling ,” says Colleen Buckley , a Mountain Lakes ASL teacher . “ This way they get involved outside of school , and can work on their sign language .”
Buckley says students start out learning the signing alphabet and soon graduate to signing words and phrases .
“ There are five elements ,” says Buckley . “ Hand shape , palm orientation , movement , location and non-manual elements such as body language and facial expressions .”
Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale began offering ASL in 2019 , and now offers three levels to a total of 87 students , says Director of Curriculum Robin Knutelsky . The school has 117 students registered for four levels next fall .
“ We ’ ve seen tremendous growth ,” Knutelsky says . “ Students are interested in that seal of biliteracy on their diplomas . Even if they are interested in colleges that will not accept signing as a world language , they get their credit in another language , then start ASL as a junior or senior .”
Highlands senior Nicole started taking ASL as a sophomore in addition to Spanish .
“ I have always been interested in sign language ,” she says . “ It ’ s not just the language , it ’ s the whole Deaf culture . I ’ m going to Sacred Heart ( University ) and they have a large signing club , so I will be able to continue .”
Ridgewood , the largest school district in Bergen County with 5,779 students , hopes to offer an ASL class starting in the fall . Humanities supervisor Mark Ferreri says that 72 students have expressed interest , but he is still negotiating for staff .“ It ’ s difficult to find certified ASL teachers ,” he says . “ We ’ ve had a lot of staff turnover retirements due to COVID , and there aren ’ t many colleges that offer the courses . Certified teachers are looking for full-time positions , and prefer schools with multiple staff .”
Schools that have been able to establish ASL programs say they do more than teach a language .
“ The popularity of our American Sign Language classes has created an understanding of deafness and a fluency with ASL that has promoted lasting friendships between hearing and deaf students ,” says the Governor Livingston High School website in Berkeley Heights . ❖
GIVE ME ASIGN Clifton High School senior Miguel Arellano uses ASL to sign the wordsofthe national anthem at afootball game against Hackensack ; Mountain Lakes High School ASL teacher Coleen Buckleyconductsaclass ; Troy Kotsur is the first deaf man to win an Oscar , given to him forhis supporting role in CODA .
8 2022 EDITION ( 201 ) HEALTH