The ASL program has a stringent No Voice in the Classroom policy. From the moment you enter the classroom, all conversation should be in ASL. From the first day, your classroom is a speech-free zone, before and after as well as during class.
Reasons for the policy:
- You will learn ASL more quickly and effectively. Good language learning requires active learning. You will find that struggling to put all of your thoughts into ASL for these fifty minutes a day (at least!) will have a marked effect on your communicative fluency.
- In addition to learning the language of the Deaf community, you are also learning Deaf culture. This is an issue of respect for both the language and the culture of the Deaf community.
- Speaking in class may leave you open to suspicion of cheating. Even if you are not attempting to cheat, your professors cannot always tell the difference between an innocent comment whispered to a classmate and cheating. We may have to assume it is the latter and act accordingly.
- It distracts and annoys other students in the class. Concentrating on putting yourself in a visual-only mode will make it easier for you to process the tremendous amount of visual information that you will encounter in ASL classes. Every time you talk, it makes it harder for other students to maintain this visual concentration.
Remember that when you enter an ASL class, leave your voice at the door. (It is really not as scary as it sounds!)