View ASL courses in the 2010-2011 Course Catalog
WHY STUDY AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE (ASL)?
Career-wise (working with Deaf people)
One of the most common jobs using ASL is as an INTERPRETER. As facilitators of communication between Deaf people and people who don't sign, interpreters are in high demand, especially after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Interpreters work in a wide variety of settings: educational, medical, community, theater, legal, and job-related. You can work as a TEACHER for Deaf children. Deaf children especially need teachers who know and understand their natural language. You can become an ASL TEACHER. ASL is accepted as a foreign language in high schools and colleges/universities in most of the states. These are just a few examples. There are many other possible jobs working directly with Deaf people.
Career-wise (not working directly with Deaf people)
Many of your clients will be Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing. It will be to your immense advantage to be able to communicate with them directly. As a NURSE, one will be able to communicate with your Deaf patients while doing routine tasks. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS will possibly have Deaf children mainstreamed in their classroom. MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS, SOCIAL WORKERS, and COUNSELORS who know and understand Deaf people are in high demand. In fact, Deaf people have sought out service providers who use ASL and helped augment the number of clients utilizing a particular service provider. ADVOCATES such as LAWYERS or LOBBYISTS who work with legislators will be able to use their knowledge and skill in ASL when parts of legislation affect Deaf people. Even if you don't plan to focus on serving Deaf people, you can probably expand your client base by offering expertise in ASL. SALES ASSISTANTS in stores and shops will often encounter Deaf customers seeking to make purchases. In fact, a background in ASL will be useful in absolutely any field or employment!
Many people undertake to study a foreign language for the insights it gives into a group of people different than themselves. Studying a different language helps you understand your own language better. Likewise, trying to see from the point of view of other people enables you to further delve into your own. This is the very reason many baccalaureate programs require a certain number of semesters of foreign language study. Students who study ASL receive the same benefits. Furthermore, because ASL is a signed language rather than spoken or written, students obtain an additional perspective into how human languages take shape in a medium of expression other than speech. This alone makes studying ASL a unique and fascinating opportunity.
What if I don't plan to have a career or a job? One of your neighbors, or their child(ren), could be Deaf. One of the members of your child's Little League team could be Deaf. A member of your church could be Deaf. A person you meet at the local grocery store could be Deaf. Someone you work out with at the local gym could be Deaf. Etc.
IN OTHER WORDS...
You will be able to use ASL just about anywhere. At work, at play, or at home.