Duke should offer ASL as a language | The Chronicle

On Tuesday evenings, I sit in a classroom with twenty-some students and a librarian. While we chat, the room remains quiet. Our hands say: how are you? Exhausted. (Two clenched fists, releasing outwards with an exhale as the shoulders slump). Last week, a classmate shared that they saw an alligator eat a chihuahua down the street. Jaw drop! They explain: I live in Florida.

This ASL & Deaf Studies house course is limited to 18 students, but an extra handful show up weekly out of interest. Emma Runia ‘23, former president of ASL Club, and Lily Elman ‘23 co-teach this course. Thanks to them, this is the first semester students are receiving credit for learning ASL. Unfortunately, due to the unresponsiveness of the administration and Trinity Language Council, it may also be the last.

American Sign Language should be formally taught at Duke because it is practical, increases accessibility, and contains a rich history and diverse community that students would benefit to learn from. Languages are inherently tied to cultures, values, and identities. If Duke’s curriculum continues to neglect ASL, whose stories are we missing?

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