Ontario high schools will start offering American Sign Language (ASL) as a second language starting in September 2021.
As one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to offer high school students ASL and Langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ), students will have the opportunity to develop new language skills, become more culturally aware, and learn about ASL or LSQ literary works and texts.
“By expanding second language course options for students, our Government is cementing its role as a leader in providing innovative learning opportunities,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
“By offering students the chance to learn ASL or LSQ, they can expand their language skills while developing [a] greater understanding of Ontario’s ASL and LSQ culture.”
According to the provincial release, ASL and LSQ each have unique histories, cultural references, and distinct grammar and syntax. To ensure accuracy, and to include authentic ASL and LSQ stories, the Ministry of Education consulted with the ASL and LSQ communities on the course content.
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“This new curriculum is much needed and will be a rich addition for students across the province. It will enhance students’ understanding of the language and identity of ASL people in Ontario: ASL peoples’ sense of self, of membership, of culture, and of humanity and encourages students to develop respect for human diversity,” said Donald Prong, Executive Director, Ontario Association of the Deaf in a statement.
“We want to recognize that the Ministry of Education’s commitment to developing this curriculum is a step in the right direction. We were very pleased to have been asked to participate in its development, and we look forward to future opportunities of working together.”
Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to release a ministry-developed LSQ curriculum, and one of the first to release a ministry-developed ASL second language curriculum.
However, Lecce did not provide any specifics for how many ASL and LSQ instructors there will be and if every school board in the province will have a class in the subject area by the fall.