University of Iowa's ASL Club Petitions for Four-Year Bachelor's Degree in ASL

The University of Iowa's ASL Club has launched a petition to establish a four-year bachelor's degree in ASL, collecting over 1,400 signatures in two months. The proposed major would focus on areas like interpreting, Deaf history, and Deaf education, aiming to bridge the communication gap between Deaf and hearing communities.

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Hadeel Hashem
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University of Iowa's ASL Club Petitions for Four-Year Bachelor's Degree in ASL

University of Iowa's ASL Club Petitions for Four-Year Bachelor's Degree in ASL

The University of American Sign Language (ASL) Club has launched a petition to establish a four-year bachelor's degree in ASL. The petition, started by ASL Club member Kate Hinz, has collected over 1,400 signatures in just two months, highlighting the growing demand for comprehensive ASL education in the state.

Currently, no school in Iowa offers a four-year ASL major, with the only ASL-specific program available being a two-year associate's degree from Scott County Community College in Riverdale, Iowa. This lack of ASL education opportunities is seen as a significant gap by advocates, who cite the need for more skilled signers and interpreters to serve the Deaf community.

Why this matters: The establishment of a four-year ASL major would not only benefit students pursuing careers in ASL-related fields but also contribute to a more inclusive and accessible society for the Deaf community. Providing more qualified interpreters would also help bridge the communication gap between the Deaf and hearing communities, promoting greater understanding and equality.

Hinz emphasizes the importance of ASL education, stating, "The more people who can learn sign language, the stronger the community we will have as a whole." Paige Simpkinson, an ASL student tutor, adds, "Deaf people deserve access to communication, information, and the same services that hearing people have. Interpreters are an instrumental part of providing access to those things."

The proposed ASL major would focus on areas such as interpreting, Deaf history, Deaf studies, and Deaf education. If implemented, it would not only benefit students pursuing careers in ASL-related fields but also attract a more robust Deaf community to Iowa City and surrounding areas.

Robert Vizzini, a lecturer within the ASL department and a member of the Deaf community, expresses his support for the major, writing, "I want to see the program add a major not only because students want this but also [because] being part of the Deaf community and advocating for equality, access, and accommodations... We need more interpreters. I need more that are qualified."

For the ASL major to be added, it must be approved by the Iowa Board of Regents. Although no ASL major is currently mentioned on any upcoming agenda, the petition and advocacy efforts aim to bring attention to the need for ASL education and drive progress toward establishing a four-year Bachelor's degree in ASL at the University of Iowa.

The University of Iowa's potential ASL program would be a pioneering effort in the state, demonstrating the growing demand for ASL professionals and the need for institutions to respond to this demand. The petition's growing support underscores the importance of ASL education and the desire for more comprehensive programs to serve the Deaf community in Iowa and beyond.

Key Takeaways

  • University of Iowa's ASL Club petitions for a 4-year ASL degree.
  • No Iowa school offers a 4-year ASL major; only a 2-year associate's degree is available.
  • Establishing an ASL major would promote inclusivity and accessibility for the Deaf community.
  • The proposed major would focus on interpreting, Deaf history, and Deaf studies.
  • Iowa Board of Regents must approve the major; the petition aims to drive progress.