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Overview American Sign Language (ASL) is the primary language of many Deaf people in the United States and Canada. Linguists recognize ASL as a fully-developed human language with its own lexicon, syntax, and morphological processes, one of over 100 naturally-occurring sign languages in the world. ASL lies at the heart of a unique culture. Deaf people who sign form a tightly-knit community with distinct social norms, values, and traditions. They have developed a growing body of literature, including ASL poetry, stories, and plays, many of which are now available on video.
Currently, the American Sign Language Program offers a five-semester sequence in ASL from the beginning through the conversational level. In addition, we occasionally offer more advanced classes in Deaf Studies, history, linguistics, and related topics.. Due to limited space and funding, we can accept about 80-110 students per semester, depending on course offerings.
Faculty The American Sign Language Program consists of three full-time faculty members (one with a joint appointment) and several part-time faculty, who together offer expertise in a wide range of areas, including ASL language instruction; Deaf history and culture; ASL poetry, storytelling, and folklore; psychology and Deaf people; the local, national, and international Deaf communities; Deaf advocacy and legal rights; and sign language interpreting. In addition, the program regularly invites nationally-recognized scholars and performers to visit the University through the Annual ASL/Deaf Culture Lecture Series.
Students Students from across the University find ASL classes a valuable complement to their programs of study. While the majority of ASL students come from the College of Arts and Sciences, students majoring in fields such as education, audiology, and speech-language pathology also frequently enroll.
Placement Students with prior ASL experience should contact the ASL Program before classes begin. We will arrange a diagnostic interview to ensure placement in the correct ASL course. Classes must be taken in sequence; once they are placed, students cannot “jump” from one level to the next.
Special Resources Through the Annual ASL/Deaf Culture Lecture Series, each year prominent scholars and performers come to campus to share their language, culture, and worldview. These events are open to the general public and frequently draw Deaf people from all over the region. Other resources include weekly sign lunches and local dinners; a growing collection of American Sign Language videos in the Robertson Media Center in Clemons Library; language laboratory videos, which help students develop their receptive abilities; and the Arts and Sciences Media Center in Cabell Hall, which has video equipment that students use to practice expressive skills.