Baldwin offers new ASL course next year


Leila Usanovic

Students in Partners Art were recently introduced to ASL, but a full-year ASL course will be offered next year.

Leila Usanovic, News Editor

In her first year of teaching, district teacher of the deaf Lindsey Graney visited Gallaudet University, the only university where all communication is done in American Sign Language, with her high school’s seniors. 

“They ordered Starbucks on campus in sign language. Everything was made accessible and I will never forget their faces and excitement during that trip,” she said.

Starting next school year, Graney will be sharing that passion by teaching a new ASL class at Baldwin.

“I’m so excited to be able to bring this to the high school. It’s a beautiful language,” Graney said. 

Graney’s passion for American Sign Language started in college.

“I quickly fell in love with the language and signed up for ASL 1. After taking my first class, I switched my major to focus on ASL and education,” she said.

Some students within the district use ASL to communicate. So by offering it as a class, the district is opening up more ways for students to communicate with each other, Graney said.

“We’re really creating an atmosphere of inclusion and of access,” she said.

French teacher Katie Streets, who is the acting chair of the world language department, said students helped make the course a reality.

“Several students had shown interest in it. They spoke with Ms. Graney, and she wrote the course proposal and took it to the board,” Streets said.

Freshman Addison Giglione and junior Ainsley Weidensall approached Graney in November. Giglione saw it as the perfect opportunity to bring students closer together, while Weidensall thought it would help many students. 

“There are so many ways to use it. Most importantly, you can make friends in the community and connect with different people, but it is also just like any other foreign language, as it can be useful anytime,” Giglione said. “You’ll never know if you will need it in your future, so it is always good to learn now.”

Weidensall agrees.

“A lot of people in our school rely on it. It makes them feel less separated from everyone else,” Weidensall said. 

There will be only one period of ASL taught next year, due to Graney’s schedule of working with hearing impaired students. 

Additionally, the course requires a two-year commitment, to ensure that there are enough students to have an ASL 2 class the following year. 

“As we pilot through this potential new program, unfortunately, there are limitations that need to be in place so that we can continue with the courses in the future,” Graney said of the two-year requirement.