Sign language courses soon to be offered in Ontario high schools

TORONTO — Ontario will soon become one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to offer high school students second-language courses in American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ). Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Raymond Cho, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, provided details about the new courses.

“By expanding second-language course options for students, our Government is cementing its role as a leader in providing innovative learning opportunities,” said Minister Lecce. “By offering students the chance to learn ASL or LSQ, they can expand their language skills while developing a greater understanding of Ontario’s ASL and LSQ culture.”

Starting in September 2021, high schools may offer American Sign Language as a second language and Langue des signes québécoise langue seconde to provide students with the opportunity to develop new language and conversation skills, gain cultural understandings, and learn about ASL or LSQ literary works and texts.

ASL and LSQ are distinct languages, each with unique histories, cultural references and distinct grammar and syntax. To ensure linguistic accuracy, and to include authentic ASL and LSQ stories, the Ministry of Education consulted with the ASL and LSQ communities on the course content.

Theara Yim, M.Ed, OCTm a highschool teacher who teaches Deaf students, also weighed in on the importance of the ASL/LSQ courses as it pertains to accessibility.

“As Paul Bourcier and Julie-Élaine Roy have stated in the introduction to the LSQ sign language dictionary: ‘In any society, language is a powerful tool because it allows communication with one another. Deaf people also have a language. Sign language enables them to communicate not only with each other but also with the hearing community.’ I am very proud to have contributed to the development of the LSQ langue seconde course for Ontario schools and to support this wonderful project.” Yim said.

To learn more about the new courses, visit Ontario’s Curriculum and Resources website.

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