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OPSEU/SEFPO applauds government’s decision to offer sign language classes

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OPSEU/SEFPO says the Ontario government’s recent decision to add sign language to its secondary school curriculum is a step in the right direction.

The government announced earlier this month that it would add American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) to its secondary school curriculum. Starting in September 2021, high schools from across the province can offer ASL or LSQ as a second language.

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas welcomes this decision and says, “The government is taking a necessary step to ensure that our schools are more inclusive.”

“Education serves as one of the pillars of our society. All children need to acquire the foundational communication skills to become contributing members of our communities.”

The addition of ASL and LSQ as second-language options recognizes that everyone communicates differently. Moreover, students will develop a better appreciation for the unique histories and identities of each language.

“This is a positive way of ensuring that members of the deaf community can contribute to society with dignity, and that there is greater equity in our educational system,” said Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer.

“OPSEU/SEFPO’s Disability Rights Caucus supports the government’s decision to offer sign language courses in the Ontario curriculum beginning September 2021,” said co-chairs Gillian Axten and Janet Heyman.

“For far too often, people living with disabilities, both visible and invisible, face seemingly insurmountable challenges each and every day. This recent decision is a wonderful initiative, acknowledging both the cultural and linguistic distinction of the deaf community. The acknowledgment of ASL and LSQ as second-language opportunities can be enriching for the students who take the courses and will assist with communication throughout society. It will remove barriers and continue to build on creating an accessible and inclusive Ontario,” Axten and Heyman concluded.