Story by Christina Soto | Broadcast Managing Editor
For over 20 years, Baylor students have wanted to take American Sign Language as a foreign language. However, ASL is not considered a foreign language at Baylor and is only offered to certain majors.
Marnie Abrahams, a lecturer in the Department of Communication Sciences, and Disorders- Health & Human Sciences, attended Baylor in 1998 and encountered the same issue as a student.
“I think that we need to understand this not as an academic issue, it’s a human rights issue,” Abrahams said. “It’s discriminatory to judge one person’s language and culture as not worthy of academic study.”
But this year, two brothers from Austin have decided to take it upon themselves to change the policy and make ASL available to all students.
The students, Tyler and Tanner Wright were both born with hearing impairments.
Tyler was born with some hearing however, he was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at two years old. This differed from Tanner, who was born completely deaf on both ears. The brothers both went through surgery at a young age to get a cochlear implant.
“I couldn’t hear a single word growing up until I got the cochlear implant and at a year-and-a-half-old I was implanted, I went to surgery and I got my cochlear implant over my right ear,” Tanner said. “I’ve worn this every day of my life since I think I was about a year-and-a-half-old.”
In middle school, the Wright brothers said they struggled taking classes like Spanish and French and were only able to take ASL once they got to high school. They were excited to take the class and learn more about the deaf community. Being born into a hearing family, they said they never knew what it was like to be around other people that shared the same experiences as they did.
Because of this, the brothers said they were disappointed when they realized they could not take the class at Baylor.
“You know I come to Baylor and I’m excited because I’m like, ‘Hey they’ve gotASL, I’m gonna take it. That’s great, you know?'” Tyler said. “And I actually learned that I couldn’t take it because of my major.”
The Wright brothers are both part of student government and are hoping to change the policy through their positions. Right now, they have a petition which has gathered over a 1,000 signatures. Tanner and Tyler, along with other Baylor students, are also working on drafting bills for each department to present to student senate.
The brothers said they understand that this change would not affect their careers at Baylor, but are hoping to change it for the people after them.