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Sign language planning and policy in Ontario teacher education

Abstract

The Deaf Ontario Now movement of 1988 called for more hiring of deaf teachers and the full implementation of American Sign Language (ASL) across the curriculum in schools with deaf students. In 1989, the Review of Ontario Education Programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students recommended that ASL become a language of instruction at the Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton, Ontario. Subsequently, the school became the site of a pilot bilingual bicultural project that led to the ratification of a policy statement on bilingual bicultural education for deaf children at all three anglophone provincial schools with deaf students in Ontario. In 1993, Bill 4 was incorporated into the Ontario Education Act, sanctioning the use of ASL and Langue des signes québécoise as languages of instruction in all schools for deaf students in Ontario. Despite this seeming progress at the policy level in sign language planning in Ontario deaf education, there has been a marked pattern of resistance to systemic change at levels of government and teacher accreditation, the university teacher of the deaf preparation program established in 1991, and provincial school administration. This paper outlines the trajectory of deaf community activism, policy change, and subsequent resistance.

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Snoddon, K. Sign language planning and policy in Ontario teacher education. Lang Policy 20, 577–598 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10993-020-09569-7

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Keywords

  • Deaf education
  • Sign language policy
  • Ontario Education Act
  • Teacher education
  • American Sign Language
  • Langue des signes québécoise