Jul 22, 2024  
Undergraduate Record 2021-2022 
Undergraduate Record 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

American Sign Language - UG

  Return to: College of Arts & Sciences: Departments/Programs  

University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400808
Charlottesville, VA 22902-4808
(434) 924-6739 Fax: (434) 924-1478
Program/Course: American Sign Language  

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 four 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; Comparative Linguistics; Multiculturalism; 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, Engineering, Nursing, Audiology, and Speech-Language Pathology also frequently enroll.

Placement Students with prior ASL experience or coursework should contact the ASL Program Director before classes begin. We will arrange a diagnostic Placement Interview (i.e., a progressive conversation in ASL) and written cultural assessment to determine the most appropriate ASL language course/level for the student.

Special Resources Through the Annual ASL/Deaf Culture Lecture Series occurring approximately four times each year, prominent scholars and performers come to Grounds to share their language, culture, and worldview. These events are open to the general public and attract audiences from all over the region. Other resources include weekly UVA Signing Lunches; monthly local Deaf community dinners; a growing collection of American Sign Language videos, video equipment, and other materials in the ASL Office and the Robertson Media Center in Clemons Library; a DEAFS Student Organization/CIO that engages students in ASL games, tutoring, field trips, and other activities; the Shea ASL Language House, a residential program where students communicate in ASL in their dorm during regular dinners, weekly “Language Corners,” and other activities; and the UVA IWL Language Commons that provides space and activities bringing together all the world language programs.