Update since article was published:
Broward County Public Schools is not to blame for sign language not being offered. Atlantic Vocational School did not offer American sign language to meet the foreign language requirement. The school board is going to work on building a better website that describes all of the different foreign language options, including sign language. I apologize for the misunderstanding. – Carly Levy.
By: Carly Levy
After a long battle, one father has won the fight against Broward County Public Schools to allow his son to take American Sign Language as his foreign language requirement.
Coral Springs resident Andrew Ladanowski has won his two-year battle with the school district to allow his son Jeremy, 16, who has Speech Apraxia, take American Sign Language (ASL) as his foreign language requirement. Ladanowski said Jeremy’s Speech Apraxia made it hard for him to take a verbal language because he would have to say the words out loud.
“It’s hard for him to learn phonetics if he can’t say the words. It makes it very difficult.”
For the past two years, Ladanowski has traveled to Tallahassee to push for a bill that would allow Jeremy to take a computer language as his foreign language requirement and the bill failed. Former teacher and State Representative Rene Plasencia of Orlando worked with Ladanowski recommended that he take ASL at Pasco County Virtual School where he has been enrolled since the beginning of the school year.
Jeremy’s guidance counselor provided him with a private tutor to visit him twice a week at Atlantic Vocational Technical School to further aid him with ASL classes.
Speech Apraxia is a motor speech disorder where the messages from the brain to the mouth are delayed and the person cannot move their lips or tongue to the right place to say the sounds correctly. Those with Speech Apraxia know the words they want to say but their brains have trouble coordinating the muscles needed to say all the sounds in the words.
Ladanowski said that once he learned that ASL classes could be used for Jeremy’s foreign language requirement, he was worried that his son would develop dyspraxia, affecting the fine motor skills of his hands. Thankfully, along with tutoring, Ladanowski realized that Jeremy could excel in ASL.
Ladanowski was surprised that ASL classes were not offered to other students in Jeremy’s high school, making Jeremy the only student who is taking it.
“With 700 students I’m sure three or four of them would have been interested in taking it online in addition to their work load,” said Ladanowski.
Other than ASL, Jeremy does very well in math and science. He also excels in playing video games and enjoys hanging out with his friends.
“I think the majority of people are very accepting of him and they will have the patience to try to understand him,” said Ladanowski.
Ladanowski’s hope is that ASL classes are offered along with all other foreign languages in Broward County Public Schools and he hopes that in the future, Jeremy will be able to use what he has learned to communicate with the deaf community.