SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 18

ASL: Access, Benefits, and Quality Rosen gestural languages such as ASL. These included locations that are noisy or quiet, or those with great distances between individuals who wish to communicate. Quality Assurance: Challenges and Issues While the benefits of ASL for deaf and hearing students may be great, the overall quality of how sign language is introduced remains an important consideration. This consideration leads to an outlining of some of the challenges and issues regarding L1 and L2/Ln teacher development and curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Families and Schools with Deaf Children Recall that many deaf children are born into a non-signing environment with hearing parents. This poses a challenge all its own. Had American society been both spoken and signed as reported for Martha’s Vineyard, the situation of deaf children and their families with hearing parents would be radically different. According to various studies on the demographics of the deaf student population, about 92% of deaf children are born to hearing parents who do not sign at least initially, and 8% have deaf parents (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2013; Mitchell & Karchmer, 2005). According to Gallaudet Research Institute (GRI), 23% of family members regularly sign and close to 72% of the families do not sign (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2013). Statistics compiled by the GRI showed that their deaf parents tended to communicate in sign language with their deaf children. This is understandable given that deaf individuals would most likely be signers themselves. The fact that hearing parents tend not to communicate in ASL with their deaf children is troubling. With spoken language predominant in society, hearing parents who find their child is deaf face the task of learning ASL as a new language, and using it in the home in addition to the spoken language already in use. The integration of deaf children in local public schools is a priority for society, as evident by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and complicates the language accessibility issues. An overwhelming majority, about 85 per cent, of deaf children have gone to mainstream programs instead of attending schools for the deaf (Shaver, Marschark, Newman, & Marder, 2014). Placed in a local public school where spoken language or English is used has ramifications for the children. Special education's emphasis on integration creates unintended consequences that undermine deaf children's access to ASL. Reports of poor sign language competency among integrated deaf students (e.g., Maller, Singleton, Supalla, & Wix, 1999; Padden & Ramsey, 2000) are understandable given that local public schools center on speaking, not signing. According to J. H. Cripps and S. Supalla (2012), the push for deaf children’s integration in speaking schools comes with a heavy price. The common provision of a sign language interpreter cannot be seen as good practice. As discussed earlier, deaf students need to undergo a bridging process from ASL to English literacy, which can be addressed in a signing school. It is reasonable to assume that only a school for the deaf has the capacity to see that deaf students be fluent readers of English, for instance. J. H. Cripps and S. Supalla explained that what it takes to teach literacy to deaf students would simply overwhelm a local public school. Deaf students are entitled to a signing teacher as much as hearing students are entitled to a speaking teacher. If one comes to visit a school for the deaf, the signing environment prevails and is frequently a rich one. Teachers and other staff are expected to sign throughout the entire day. Deaf teachers are widely known for SASLJ, Vol. 1, No. 1 – Fall/Winter 2017 18