§ 16-25.4-2. Legislative purposes.
(a) The legislature declares that:
(1) The recognition of the unique social, cultural, and linguistic heritage of a community is crucial to the respect and well-being of that community;
(2) It is crucial that children of every community receive strong language base;
(3) Over the last twenty (20) years, a significant and growing body of scientific inquiry of American Sign Language (ASL) has been undertaken with the result that ASL is a valid, formal, and natural language, the use of which is vital to the preservation of the culture and heritage of the deaf community;
(4) While the majority of members of the deaf and hard of hearing community use American Sign Language as a primary means of communication, other members of the community employ a variety of means of communication including oral-aural communication and other manually coded systems;
(5) The study and learning of American Sign Language contributes to a greater understanding of the social and cultural aspects of deafness and to the breakdown of communication barriers that have existed between people who are hearing and deaf and thus to the advancement of the state's expressed policy to encourage and enable deaf people, and other people who are disabled, to participate fully in the economic, political and social life of the state.
(b) The general assembly recognizes that American Sign Language is a fully developed, autonomous, natural language with distinct grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and cultural heritage which is used by individuals who are hearing and deaf and hard of hearing in the United States, and determines that American Sign Language shall be accorded equal status with other linguistic systems in the state's public and higher education systems.
(P.L. 1996, ch. 317, § 1; P.L. 1999, ch. 83, § 31; P.L. 1999, ch. 130, § 31.)