On campus there is a class where deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students come to do their work. Because many are unable to hear the spoken word they use American Sign Language to go over the same material that all students at AHS do.
“It is what the students primarily use in order to complete their academic lessons as well as to communicate with one another during regular conversation. Whether the students are profoundly deaf or hard of hearing, ASL is their primary language,” said Debbie Castaneda, the teacher of the DHH class.
Seven years ago, the American Sign Language stopped being offered at Alhambra High School through the foreign language department. Currently, there are nine DHH students at Alhambra High.
“An ASL course could be an opportunity to educate hearing kids about deaf culture. There are students who are interested in becoming ASL teachers and interpreters and having a high school level class would help them toward a future career,” said Stephanie Cohen, school guidance counselor.
ASL is considered a foreign language. A foreign language teaching credential for secondary level is required by the state of California for this course. The requirements for a teacher would be the same as any other teacher who works in the foreign language department here at AHS.
“The DHH students are pleased when other students attempt to learn ASL. The opportunity to learn ASL and practice it with students who prefer to use this language, develops an empathy for others in a way that truly increases communication capabilities and tolerance of differences,” said Castaneda.