[lg policy] Brothers fight to change Baylor’s ASL policy

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Feb 8 10:24:09 EST 2018

 Brothers fight to change Baylor’s ASL policy
Christina Soto <http://baylorlariat.com/author/christina-soto/>
February 7, 2018

Story by Christina Soto | Broadcast Managing Editor

For over 20 years, Baylor students have wanted to take American Sign
Language as a foreign language. However, ASL is not considered a foreign
language at Baylor and is only offered to certain majors.

Marnie Abrahams, a lecturer in the Department of Communication Sciences,
and Disorders- Health & Human Sciences, attended Baylor in 1998 and
encountered the same issue as a student.

“I think that we need to understand this not as an academic issue, it’s a
human rights issue,” Abrahams said. “It’s discriminatory to judge one
person’s language and culture as not worthy of academic study.”

But this year, two brothers from Austin have decided to take it upon
themselves to change the policy and make ASL available to all students.

The students, Tyler and Tanner Wright were both born with hearing

Tyler was born with some hearing however, he was diagnosed with severe
hearing loss at two years old. This differed from Tanner, who was born
completely deaf on both ears. The brothers both went through surgery at a
young age to get a cochlear implant.

“I couldn’t hear a single word growing up until I got the cochlear implant
and at a year-and-a-half-old I was implanted, I went to surgery and I got
my cochlear implant over my right ear,” Tanner said. “I’ve worn this every
day of my life since I think I was about a year-and-a-half-old.”

In middle school, the Wright brothers said they struggled taking classes
like Spanish and French and were only able to take ASL once they got to
high school. They were excited to take the class and learn more about the
deaf community. Being born into a hearing family, they said they never knew
what it was like to be around other people that shared the same experiences
as they did.

Because of this, the twins said they were disappointed when they realized
they could not take the class at Baylor.

“You know I come to Baylor and I’m excited because I’m like, ‘Hey they’ve
gotASL, I’m gonna take it. That’s great, you know?'” Tyler said. “And I
actually learned that I couldn’t take it because of my major.”

The Wright brothers are both part of student government and are hoping to
change the policy through their positions. Right now, they have a petition
which has gathered over a 1,000 signatures. Tanner and Tyler, along with
other Baylor students, are also working on drafting bills for each
department to present to student senate.

The brothers said they understand that this change would not affect their
careers at Baylor, but are hoping to change it for the people after them.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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