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NVC takes fresh look at sign language classes

NVC takes fresh look

at sign language classes

          In an effort to improve language course offerings for students who want to learn American Sign Language in order to work with the deaf, Napa Valley College is taking a fresh look at possible curriculum changes in 2017.

          In the meantime, while assessing the demand for ASL language courses and faculty resources, the college has decided that American Sign Language courses will not be offered in the spring, but could return as early as summer.

          "NVC is not doing away with the ASL program," said NVC trustee Joann Busenbark, a longtime advocate for people with learning disabilities, who started the college program 30 years ago.

"There is a need to look at what's going on at other colleges in terms of curriculum, and part of that involves the language arts division, where ASL classes serve to meet the foreign language requirement for some majors. There is a need to look at what we're offering students, and perhaps to offer additional courses besides ASL 1 and 2.

"Not offering courses for one semester gives us the opportunity to do that. NVC has always had a strong commitment to the deaf community, and that is not going to change," Busenbark said.

          In 2016, two ASL courses were attended by about 150 students, many of whom take the class because it satisfies a language requirement.

However, the current ASL course curriculum is not designed to lead to degrees or certifications for employment as teachers of ASL or sign language interpreters, nor do they help prepare students for ASL degrees at four-year universities, which typically require multiple levels of ASL courses as preparation for transfer.

          Dr. Ronald Kraft, president of NVC, outlined his next steps. "Over the spring semester, I'm asking the college staff and faculty to help assess student demand for ASL classes, review the curriculum, and determine appropriate next steps for developing program enhancements."

          The NVC board of trustees is scheduled to take up the matter at Thursday's Board meeting, starting at 5:30.