Bachelor of Arts (BA) in American Sign Language Studies
Expand your ideas. Open your heart.
It’s the fourth most studied modern language at colleges and universities in the U.S. It can help you become an advocate for the Deaf and hard of hearing, their families, the community, and for accessibility services.
Community. Culture. Language. History. American Sign Language (ASL) Studies touches on it all.
As an ASL Studies degree major at William Woods University, you will not only learn to communicate effectively and fluently in ASL, but also to think critically about issues such as identity, diversity and culture.
The Bachelor degree in American Sign Language Studies is an interdisciplinary study that includes advanced coursework in ASL, as well as understanding of Deaf Culture, ethics and linguistics. The degree is enhanced with electives in interesting and relevant topics, including child development, psychology and social work. ASL Studies at William Woods University is flexible and attractive option for students considering a double major — one that can benefit any area of study.
All language based courses are taught in American Sign Language (ASL)
Join other ASL students in experiences all over the world. In the past, we’ve taken students to locations in London, Paris and Rome
Work directly with students at the Missouri School for the Deaf, the local Deaf community, and Deaf instructors and tutors
Utilize our state-of-the-art language and interpreting lab equipped with Apple workstations and large-screen monitors for language development.
Work one on one with Deaf language mentors in the ASL lab.
A Bachelor of Arts degree in ASL can supplement and enrich virtually any career — law, health care, public relations, communications, you name it — in so many settings, including mental health clinics, social service agencies, interpretation agencies, video relay providers, hospitals and clinics, government institutions and schools. This is why, very often, students double major in various fields — psychology, political/legal studies, social work, education, and more.
William Woods University alumni are working at these and other organizations:
The Whole Family Project of Kansas City
Special School District of St. Louis County
Fulton State Hospital
St. Joseph School District
North Dakota School for the Deaf
Arkansas School for the Deaf
Missouri School for the Deaf
Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language Studies degree at William Woods University consists of 122 distinct credit hours for graduation—including 36 core major credits, 3 required elective credits, a minor, and a year of foreign language.
Courses you may take
Career Seminar in ASL Studies
This course is designed to introduce non-Deaf students to various professions with and in service to Deaf people. A survey of ASL/English interpreting profession will be conducted, as well as touching on various fields in the behavioral sciences, education, law etc. Additionally, community services for the Deaf will be covered in depth.
American Sign Language I
Introduces students to basic expressive and receptive skills in ASL, including conversation strategies, spatial referencing and facial expressions. Awareness of deaf culture also is included. Attendance in lab is required.Students must earn a ‘C’ or better for the course to meet the requirements as a prerequisite for subsequent language courses.
Compares, contrasts and analyzes deaf culture and American culture from a variety of perspectives. Examines cultural interactions between deaf and hearing people and provides opportunity for exploring potential cultural conflicts between deaf and hearing people.
American Sign Language II
Continues to develop basic expressive and receptive skills including classifiers, temporal sequencing, spatial agreement and object identification through description. Study of deaf culture is continued. Attendance in lab is required. Students must earn a ‘C’ or better for the course to meet the requirements as a prerequisite for subsequent language courses.
American Sign Language III
Focuses on expressive and receptive communication skills and culture. Functional language ability in survival and social situations is further developed. Attendance in Lab is required.Students must earn a ‘C’ or better for the course to meet the requirements as a prerequisite for subsequent language courses.
Ethics and Decision Making
This course surveys the field of ethics and how we use ethics and values to make decisions in the face of conflicting values. Ethical standards and dilemmas in various professions, including ASL English interpreting, will be explored through discussion, case studies, and role playing. This course includes topics related to working cross-culturally, power relations within and among groups, and ethical standards and statements form a variety of professions and communities.
Fingerspelling and Numbers
This course is designed to help students develop comprehension and production fingerspelling skills (including numerical signs and lexicalized signs) used in American Sign Language. Within a range of contexts and using a variety of topics through extensive fingerspelling drills that emphasize clear form and transitions. Students will use fingerspelled and abbreviated words as well as lexicalized signs in ASL within a range of contexts. The faculty will guide the student through dialogues and short stories that emphasize clear form and transitions.
American Sign Language IV
Expressive and receptive communication skills and culture. Functional language ability in survival and social situations is further developed. Attendance in lab is required. Students must earn a ‘C’ or better for the course to meet the requirements as a prerequisite for subsequent language courses.
American Sign Language V
Continuation of ASL: Expanded study of ASL with emphasis on conversation skills and storytelling; introduced to study of storytelling features; continued expansion of knowledge of Deaf culture and Deaf community. Vocabulary is expanded through introduction of various content areas dealing with current events, world affairs, literature, the arts and abstract ideas. Students learn how to participate in-group discussions, speculate, make analogies, and give instructions and express feelings and intentions. Students must earn a ‘C’ or better for the course to meet the requirements as a prerequisite for subsequent language courses.
Linguistics of Non-Manual Markers in ASL
This course is designed to develop proficiency in the understanding and use of non-manual markers in ASL. Many grammatical structures of ASL are produced as facial expressions, body shifts, and morphemes produced with specific mouth and eye movements. For non-Deaf people, this is perhaps some of the more difficult aspects of ASL to learn and the most important for comprehension and production. Students will learn how to accurately inflect specific meaning in ASL using non-manual markers. The course will also touch on fingerspelling accuracy.
American Sign Language VI
Upper level ASL course with a focus on diglossia, variation in sign language use, and viewing the Deaf community as part of a linguistic and cultural minority. Topics that will be covered include perspectives on Deafhood and Deaf/deaf communities, attitudes toward Deaf people and signed languages, technology and communication, history of the Deaf community, contributions of Deaf people to society, communication issues and the politics of language use, choices, and power. Students will expand on vocabulary through working on areas of advanced subject matters, application of non-manual markers, use of classifiers, and proper pronominalization.
Linguistics of American Sign Language
Students take an analytical approach to language and the field of linguistics as it applies to American Sign Language. ASL phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, bilingualism, and language use and usage will be examined and discussed. Language samples will be viewed and analyzed for evidence of different language structures and forms. Students will also read and critique research articles pertaining to ASL and other signed languages.
This course analyzes and compares the various genres of American Sign Language literature. ASL poetry, narrative, humor, as well as written work by deaf individuals and other language devices will be examined and discussed. Students will create and evaluate original work illustrating the similarities and uniqueness of ASL. Students will become familiar with well-known contributors: Clayton Valli, Patrick Graybill, Ella Mae Lentz, etc. Research articles pertaining to ASL or Deaf Literature will be critiqued and discussed as well.