Oswego high schools will offer new sign language course

Oswego School District 308 is investigating acts of vandalism that occurred at Oswego East High School Wednesday night, including racial slurs written on the school grounds.

Oswego School District 308 is moving ahead with plans to offer a sign language course for high school students starting in the fall.

At the June 3 Oswego school board meeting, board members approved the purchase of the TRUE+WAY ASL curriculum, a digital resource for teachers and students. The cost of the resource is $40 per license (350 student licenses will be bought and each student will receive a license), which would translate to $14,000 for the 2024-25 school year.

A digital license can only be used once. A course fee of $25 will be used to offset the cost of the resource in future years.

“This is actually a momentous moment for our district. It took a lot to get to this point.”

—  Andalib Khelghati, Oswego District 308 superintendent

Last October, school board members voted 7-0 to add an American Sign Language course to the district’s high school curriculum at Oswego High School and Oswego East High School starting in the 2024-25 school year.

“I think we’ve done an awesome thing here for our students,” Oswego school board member Jared Ploger said following the vote.

Board member Jennifer Johnson agreed.

“I’m just very grateful,” she said. “As part of the deaf and hard of hearing community, I’m incredibly grateful that we are finally bringing this forward.”

Oswego School Superintendent Andalib Khelghati also took note of the importance of adding the course.

“This is actually a momentous moment for our district,” he said. “It took a lot to get to this point.”

ASL is the third most commonly used language in the U.S., after English and Spanish. Plainfield and Yorkville school districts are among the districts in the area offering sign language courses for students.

Staff said the course will allow for the district’s deaf and hard of hearing students who use sign language as their primary mode of communication to feel more included in their learning environment.

At the same time, the course will allow students to explore potential careers (some of which are experiencing a nationwide shortage) that require the use of sign language in the daily performance of their jobs, such as a sign language interpreter for the deaf or a speech/language pathologist.