According to a 2000 survey of state education departments there were 456 high schools that taught ASL. But by 2004 the number had jumped to 701. “As of 2006, 41 states had approved of adding ASL to the foreign-language curriculum, with Nebraska being the most recent addition.”
Why the rise?
Geoffrey Poor, associate professor in the department of sign language and interpreting services at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y., said in an e-mail that in the linguistics community, the issue of ASL as a foreign language was "laid to rest" with the publication of A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles in 1965 by William Stokoe, a sign language teacher at what is now Gallaudet University, the world-renowned university for the deaf in Washington. But in popular culture, he said, those who accept ASL as a foreign language are harder to come by.
"For a long time people figured, out of ignorance, that it was just miming, broken English, etc.," he said about ASL. "However, there is no deaf cuisine or clothing or country," which, Poor believes, is why "many people have resisted giving it a foreign-language status."
But the question a lot of us ask today is that will this trend continue? And for how long? Will technology and biotechnology of the future change all that despite the continued rapid advancements that could make ASL into a limited-use mode of visual language/communcation among toddlers who are hearing or were once deaf until they are ready to talk? But for now, ASL is enjoying the continued increasing trend as a foreign language requirement at high schools, community colleges and universities as well as the growing Deaf population. Still, in the back of many Deaf people's mind, will it take 100 years for it to "disappear" as one Deaf blogger said earlier?