To the Editor:

It is important for our community to know that Bowling Green State University’s intention is to just postpone closing the American Sign Language. They are not letting any new students in, which will kill it quietly next spring, instead of now with 25,000 rallied around it.

I hope this open letter changes the conversation.

The ASL program does more than “teach a language.” Perhaps President Rodney Rogers does not know the wide-reaching effect courses have.

In a social climate obsessed with privilege, you are telling the deaf community that BGSU is one more place we should just accept hearing privilege, while claiming to be a public university for the public good.

Do you know what it’s like to go to the doctor, especially in a pandemic, to try to receive treatment from professionals who have their faces covered? It’s terrifying. With educated students championing for communication access through the availability of interpreters, or at the very least, clear masks, I could someday have the same medical access you do. Principles of communication access, ADA and the use of technology in the Deaf World are explored in ASL 1 and 2.

Do you know about the mental health crisis affecting deaf young adults due to isolation and communication deprivation? The educational options for deaf students are explored in ASL 3. Students learn how to be an advocate and friend to people who are different from them.

The ability to authentically take food orders, assist at a retail store, and help with personal needs are explored in ASL 2-4.

I have put BGSU on the map as the first university in Ohio to have all four ASL classes TAG approved. I designed those classes, along with the majority of the minor classes, with my professional expertise in Deaf Education, the deaf community, and personal and professional knowledge of communication access.

There are real people who lose because of your decisions.

I am a successful professional with a unique perspective, and I have a disability. The work I do is important. Students leave these classes changed … ready to champion for public good.

You do not need additional “partnerships.” You need to utilize the faculty you have.

You have thousands of students who have received this education in language, equity and access. I urge you to consider the plea of 25,000.

Rebecca Sidders

Assistant Teaching Professor, ASL