Story by Sarah LeBlanc
Photo by Sydney Price
The university is offering introductory level courses taught by professor Polly Fullbright in the fall and spring of 2014.
“It would be helpful to know sign language in schools,” first-year Nicole Kincius said. “There is a whole sign language culture that I would like to know more about.”
First-year Elizabeth Nortman said it would be “interesting to learn a language that’s probably not offered at a lot of schools.”
According to the world languages and cultures department at Drake, these courses are available thanks to a generous donation in the hopes to broaden American Sign Language’s reach over Iowa.
Rainey Lecher, a first-year journalism student, said learning sign language “would be really helpful in the business world because if you have a client who is hearing impaired, it would be easier to communicate with them.”
Senior Nathan Erickson agreed, and said that knowledge of sign language “shows respect for members of the deaf community.”
The American Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination in the workplace, in transportation and in various other public facilities and includes protection for the deaf under the law.
First-year Sydney Price said, “I think it’s good that Drake is expanding their horizons as far as language classes go to include something that is not traditionally taught.”
The knowledge of sign language is helpful in any major or field of study, not simply a major focusing on another culture or a major in linguistics.
Kincius also said “I think it would be cool because sign language and hand gestures in general are how other people express their emotions.” This new language being offered at Drake would help break down a barrier between the population of the world who cannot communicate with the deaf culture because they do not understand sign language.
With the addition of introductory American Sign Language courses, students will have the opportunity to become adapted to the deaf culture through a course that is growing in popularity among college campuses throughout the nation. According to the Modern Language Association Survey, American Sign Language ranks fourth behind German, Spanish and French at colleges across the country.
First-year Pharmacy student Katie McMahon notes, “I think it is an opportunity that people should take advantage of.”
With increasing competition in the job market, any extra skill an individual brings to the workplace puts him or her at an advantage over those applicants who do not possess those skills.
Erickson further remarks that a knowledge of sign language “shows you are willing to go to the next level.”
For students looking to sign up for the class, an introductory level American Sign Language course will be offered in the Spring.