Vainieri Huttle Bill to Recognize American Sign Language as a Foreign Language in NJ’s High Schools Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) that would allow American Sign Language (ASL) to be used by New Jersey high school students to meet world language graduation requirements was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

American Sign Language is a complete, complex language that employs signs made with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions and postures of the body. The bill (A-4212) would provide that American Sign Language can be recognized as a world language for the purpose of meeting any state or local world language requirement for high school graduation. 

"Here in the United States, American Sign Language is the primary language of an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 Americans and is said to be the fourth most commonly used language in the country," said Vainieri Huttle. "This can help hearing impaired students meet their graduation requirements, and remove some of the stigma often associated with hearing loss by encouraging all students to learn ASL."

The bill would take effect on July 1 of the first school year following enactment.

The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee.