More Students Taking American Sign Language to Fulfill Foreign Language Requirements
April 18, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: April 18, 2006
CONTACT: John Davis, email@example.com
LUBBOCK – Texas Tech University students are expected to line up in the wee hours
of the morning Wednesday hoping to get a spot in American Sign Language classes.
That’s because demand for the class has shot up more than 700 percent in the last
five years, according to Melissa Hays, a faculty member in the Department of Classical
and Modern Languages and Literatures. Last year, more than 300 students waited for
hours to enroll for the 140 available seats. She expects the same amount this year.
At TTU and around the country, more students are signing up for the classes. The Modern
Language Association found nationwide enrollment in ASL classes increased by 432 percent
between 1998 and 2002.
“There is an increasing awareness of ASL and the deaf community,” Hays said. “According
to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, American
Sign Language is the fourth most used language in the United States. We often have
students remark about meeting a deaf person at work or while out shopping. Many students
are motivated to learn a language that they will be able to use. There are other students
who assume ASL will be easier for them than a spoken language. Unfortunately for them,
that is not always the case.”
When the program started five years ago, only two classes taught by one instructor
were offered at TTU per semester. The department now has 14 classes and five instructors/faculty
members teaching ASL to meet demand. Of those instructors, three are deaf.
“Most people are taking it for a foreign language credit,” Hays said. “This is the
second year we’ve offered a minor. What we’d like to do is offer an actual bachelor’s
degree. As part of that degree we would like to add the option for students to obtain
ASL teacher certification. More and more high schools are offering ASL, but qualified
teachers are extremely difficult to find.”
CONTACT: Melissa Hays, faculty member in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages
and Literatures, (806) 742-3145 ext. 253, or firstname.lastname@example.org.