Ontario high schools can offer sign language classes in September

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TORONTO — Ontario’s high schools can begin offering sign language classes in the next school year.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says school boards will have the chance to offer second-language courses in both American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ).

He says the curricula were developed in consultation with members of the ASL and LSQ communities to ensure the courses are linguistically accurate and contain “authentic ASL and LSQ stories.”

Lecce says Ontario is among the first provinces to introduce an ASL second-language course, and the first to offer an LSQ second-language course.

He says the province is “encouraging all boards” to introduce the courses.

Wanda Blackett of Silent Voice Canada, a charity that offers services in ASL for members of the deaf community, says that while there are some ASL and LSQ teachers available right now, it may take some time for the courses to be made available provincewide.

“In terms of the availability of proficient teachers who could teach at all of the school boards … we’re not there yet,” said Blackett, who was involved in the announcement. “It’s important to recognize that some capacity does have to be built over time.”