ASL With Fries

In a previous issue of SIGNews, Marvin Miller mentioned he’d like to see ASL as a required language in schools all over the country. Hmmm. He got me thinking (and thinking is something I don’t do often -- so pay attention, this is going to be good).

Now that I think about it, high schools offer a lot of foreign languages. Spanish, French, German, Russian, Latin -- whoa, waitaminute. Latin? With all due respect to the classics, what use does the average high school student have for Latin?

Picture this scenario: a guy wearing a toga walks into a McDonalds and tries to order a Big Mac. He’s speaking a language no one understands. The teenage kid behind the counter figures it out and asks, “You want fries with that?” in fluent Latin. Do you see this happening? Unless the Pope himself wants a Happy Meal, I don’t think so.

On the other hand, how many deaf folks walk into a McDonalds (or any other restaurant, for that matter) every day? Hundreds of thousands! They ought to put Over 2 Million Deafies Served on the famous McDonalds logo.

And when these deafies walk into their respective restaurants, they are going to get one of two responses when the waiter or cashier realizes they are deaf. Some restaurant staff are surprised but quickly recover. They say, “Oh, I’m sorry!” and quickly utilize pen and paper. They may also alter their speech in such a way that they’re easier to lipread. Others are visibly freaked out. They may actually back away from you as if you’re contagious.

In either case, it’s obvious these people would have a much better handle on the situation if their respective high schools and colleges offered ASL classes. And again, no offense intended to the other languages -- many of which may be practical here and there -- but ASL would be used on a far more frequent basis.

Marvin is absolutely right. It’s time to put ASL in high schools -- and colleges -- everywhere. I can’t wait for the day when I walk into a McDonalds and the kid behind the counter fluently signs, “FF-want?”