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‘It’s something practical’: Senator speaks on law allowing sign language classes to count toward high school graduation

Sign language
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Mississippi now has a new law that allows sign language to count as a foreign language credit within the state’s public school system.

Governor Tate Reeves signed Senate Bill 2339, authored by Republican Senator Angela Burks-Hill, which requires the State Board of Education to develop a curriculum in which sign language can count as a foreign language credit to go toward high school graduation.

“It’s something that’s practical that kids may actually retain — more than they would retain in one year of a foreign language,” Hill said on The Gallo Show.

Statistically, Mississippi is behind in the realm of sign language with its number of certified American sign language interpreters standing at 22. That’s in comparison to neighboring states such as Arkansas (55), Louisiana (70), Alabama (113), and Tennessee (22).

Ronda Bryan, an ASL instructor at Ole Miss, said in a recent interview that sign language is an incredible skill to have and could result in more jobs in Mississippi.

“I think the very basic human level just being able to have more acceptable environments connect deaf people to their communities,” Bryan said. “We need interpreters so that those people have access to education and healthcare and employment and legal proceedings and on and on.”

Sign language educators are hopeful that this new law will incentivize pupils to learn the communication method to be able to speak to a group of people typically considered an afterthought in society.

Ole Miss professor: D.K. Metcalf celebrating with sign language raises awareness for deaf community

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