Sign language classes are coming to Ontario high schools, but will there be enough teachers?
When sign language is offered as a second language course in Ontario high schools next fall, advocates hope there will be enough qualified teachers to meet the potential demand.
The province has said it is developing a curriculum for American Sign Language (ASL) or Quebec Sign Language (LSQ) that school boards can choose to integrate. This will be the first time that LSQ will be introduced as a second language course in Canada.
David Wiesblatt, president of the London Club of the Deaf, said he was excited to see distinct languages ââspread to the whole community, but he hopes school boards will seek certified teachers.
âA few years ago, when I was teaching ASL online in high school in the United States, I had an American Sign Language Teaching Certificate. It allowed me to teach in high schools, but Canada doesn’t offer the certificate, âsaid Wiesblatt.
“I don’t think there are enough qualified instructors, so I think there needs to be a dialogue about it.”
The lack of sign language interpreters, including teachers, has been an issue that advocacy groups and parents have raised in the past.
Wiesblatt hopes that every school board that chooses to offer the language classes involves the Deaf community from the start.
âThey need deaf instructors and consultants who know the best recommendations on how to proceed and how to move forward,â he said.
âASL is spreading so there are a lot more people using sign language which is great. However, one concern I have is, those who teach sign language whether they are or not. qualified. “
ASL and LSQ are separate languages ââwith their own histories, references, as well as grammar and syntax.
The Education Department said in a statement earlier this month that it had held consultations with the ASL and LSQ communities on course content to ensure transparency.
He says he is also recruiting qualified interpreters to help with hiring teachers, as well as to help with course assessment tools.
Wiesblatt hopes that getting young people interested in learning ASL will eventually fill the communication gaps that he and others with hearing processing problems encounter on a daily basis.
“There are still gaps in communication. People who are not signatories are supposed to lip read, and that is not always the case. Sometimes there are barriers to written communication if English is not something that people know about. “