Student petitions EMU to teach sign language

Summarized by Caitlin Aurigemma, staff writer

With a population between 500,000 to 2,000,000 of American Sign Language users in the United States, the study of American Sign Language as a foreign language has become a reality in many colleges across the country. However, this is not the case at Eastern Michigan University, though one student is attempting to change that.

Ashlee Lewis, a junior social work major at the university has started a petition to bring American Sign Language classes to the university which currently includes other foreign languages as well as programs for special education. After joining with a fellow student Thereza Amador, she has collected nearly 150 student and faculty signatures.

Though Lewis became interested in ASL from her deaf grandfather, the idea of making a petition came from Lewis during a day in Lansing, WI where she attended National Association of Social Workers’ Legislative, Education and Advocacy Day. After learning about the discrepancies between the Hearing and Deaf Community, Lewis knew it was time for a change.

With enrollment increasing nationally by 16 percent, ASL has become the fourth most-studied language among college campuses in the United States. With these facts to back her up, Lewis hopes that Eastern Michigan University will begin offering ASL and other courses directly related to deafness in the near future.

Lewis has since sent the petition to Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin where she hopes to hear a response in the near future.

Read the full story here.

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