It is the philosophy of OSD that all languages and cultures are equal, and that knowledge of a second language and culture is valuable. OSD also believes that every student has a right to an education in her or his primary language.
English is the primary language for most people in the United States. American Sign Language is the predominant language of most Deaf people in the United States. These two languages are therefore most likely to be useful for Deaf students.
The goal is to provide a bilingual enrichment program, using ASL and English, for all OSD students. For students first entering the program, a majority of instruction should be provided in the students' primary language. As students remain in the program, the instruction provided in the second language should gradually be increased to a maximum of fifty percent of the school day.
OSD recognizes that some students come to the school program without a bona fide language. For those students, the initial goal will be to develop primary competency in whichever of the two languages is most accessible to the individual student.
OSD recognizes the importance of English literacy and knowledge of the diversity of American culture for all students. Therefore, writing and reading across a variety of levels and for various purposes will be encouraged at all grade levels. OSD recognizes the value of speech and speech reading skills for students who can use these skills for communication, and will endeavor to encourage them.
OSD recognizes that acquiring competency in the secondary (written) form of any language is difficult without the ability to interact in that language. OSD also recognizes that code-switching is a natural behavior of all bilinguals, including Deaf individuals. We therefore acknowledge the use of English-based signing in situations where interactive practice in English is needed, where monolingual English-speakers are included in the communication, and in any other situation where code-switching would naturally occur.
OSD recognizes that, while ASL does not have a written form, there are literary forms of ASL. OSD strives to develop ASL literacy and knowledge of American Deaf culture in all students and staff through exposure to and opportunities to practice and preserve these literary forms.