JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A new petition is asking East Tennessee State University to allow American Sign Language to fill language requirements.
Supporters say not allowing ASL to fill the language requirements in the curriculum hurts the department since they do not get the same number of students as other language courses.
“The Deaf community has made an impact on a lot of our lives. Those of us who minor in ASL, we just feel like it’s really important that they’re recognized in a proper way and that there’s no discrimination in the language, ” said ASL student Olivia Sharp.
In 2017, Tennessee passed legislation that recognized ASL as a modern language. Proponents say it’s time for ETSU to do the same.
“ASL is a recognized language in the United States. It’s been recognized in the US since the 1960s,” Eliza Billings, ASL student and petition organizer said. “So there’s not really any reason why it shouldn’t be counted as a full language here as well.”
“And it’s also used outside of the United States even it’s used in parts of Canada,” Sharp added. “And so it really fulfills the definition of what a world language is.”
Billings and Sharp plan on proposing a bill to the ETSU student senate, from there it will move on to the faculty senate.
As of Thursday night, the petition had more than 350 signatures.