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NO. 16. AN ACT RELATING TO foreign language credit for thE study of American sign language

(S.25)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(a) The general assembly finds:

(1) American Sign Language (ASL) is a fully developed visual-gestural language with distinct grammar, syntax and symbols, and is one of hundreds of the signed languages of the world.

(2) ASL is recognized as the language of the American Deaf community, and is the fourth most commonly-used language in the United States and Canada.

(3) The American Deaf community is a group of citizens who are members of a unique culture who share ASL as their common language.

(4) Thirty-three state legislatures have adopted legislation recognizing ASL as a language which should be taught in schools.

(b) It is the intent of the general assembly to recognize ASL as the language of the American Deaf community, to authorize public and independent schools to offer ASL as a course of study, and to encourage acceptance of secondary school ASL credits as foreign language credits.

Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. 911 is added to read:

911. AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE; FOREIGN LANGUAGE CREDIT

(a) American Sign Language is a visual-gestural system of communication used by many in the Deaf community living in the United States and Canada. It is a complete and complex language that has its own syntax, rhetoric and grammar which is used to convey information and meaning through signs made with the hands, arms, facial markers and other body movements.

(b) Any public or independent school may offer American Sign Language for foreign language credit.

Sec. 3. COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION; STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION; INFORMATION ABOUT AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE; LICENSING OF AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE TEACHERS; POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTIONS

(a) The commissioner of education, in collaboration with the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Vermont Association of the Deaf, shall provide information about American Sign Language (ASL) and how to develop and maintain ASL courses to a public or independent school administrator upon request of the administrator.

(b) By January 1, 2004, the commissioner of education, in collaboration with the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Vermont Association of the Deaf, shall develop a plan designed to encourage licensed and prospective educators in Vermont to seek endorsement as teachers of American Sign Language through preservice or inservice training or other modes of professional development.

(c) By January 1, 2004, the state board of education shall adopt a rule establishing licensing standards for teachers of ASL. In developing the rules, the board shall consult with the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Vermont Association of the Deaf.

(d) The commissioner of education, in collaboration with the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Vermont Association of the Deaf, shall work with postsecondary education providers to encourage postsecondary institutions in Vermont to accept secondary school credits in ASL as credits in foreign language, and to encourage postsecondary institutions to offer ASL courses to students.

Approved: May 2, 2001