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SNU’s Introduces Sign Language to its General Education Curriculum

Mar 17, 2018

Special event on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Special event on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The courses in sign language, windows into the everyday lives of people with hearing disabilities, are now being offered at SNU to a wide range of students pursuing a variety of careers. On March 8, SNU announced that sign language has officially become part of the school’s diverse general education curriculum. This semester, SNU is offering a 2-credit course entitled Understanding Korean Sign Language. There are currently two sections available with a maximum enrollment of 30 students each. SNU plans to open at least two sign language courses each semester.

Offering a new course in sign language is part of the university’s efforts to raise leaders who excel both academically and socially. The course aims to further the students’ understanding of not only the language itself, but also the lives of those with physical difficulties. Through this extensive course, students learn the culture of the hearing disabled and gain insight into human communication in general.

With the implementation of the Korean Sign Language Law in 2016, Korean Sign Language, alongside Korean, became an official national language. The number of people with hearing disabilities in Korea has reached 291,000 in 2016 and including those with language disabilities, about 300,000 people depend on sign language for communication.

However, sign language is still widely considered to be an area of study restricted to professional training. Although 30 universities in the country do offer sign language courses, they are generally only offered to those majoring in special education.

SNU’s sign language course is noteworthy in that it is part of the general education curriculum, therefore open to everyone. “This will help promote a culture that fully embraces people with disabilities,” an SNU official said. “We are also planning on starting various programs for students with disabilities, such as one-on-one specialized courses.”

Written by Chae Hyun Kim, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,