The importance of effective communication throughout all aspects of life is indisputable. Facility in a foreign language has long been a measure of willingness to be inclusive, to look beyond one’s native borders, to be involved in the world. Acquiring a foreign language is enthusiastically received in most cultures and essential in many.
While foreign language studies almost universally focus on spoken language, enthusiasm for the process is not limited to the hearing. A recent survey found that deaf students also are interested in learning foreign sign languages. [Parton, B.S. (2014). Facilitating exposure to sign languages of the world: The case for mobile assisted language learning. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 13, 13-24.] Research in the area clearly shows, however, that opportunities to study foreign sign language are severely limited or, as some would say, effectively nonexistent.
How can this void be addressed? What public policies must be expanded and what resources are available to promote the venture? The various approaches to these questions will be the topic of future discussion. We encourage you to join in the dialogue.