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Man using sign language to communicate.

American Sign Language (ASL) Studies

A common misconception about American Sign Language (ASL) is that it’s the English language “spoken” with gestures. But in fact, it’s far more intricate and nuanced than that. ASL is actually its own language, with its own unique syntax and grammar. And like many languages, ASL is a bond for those who practice it. Beyond communication, ASL is a source of pride, community, and culture.

Degree Types
Complementary Programs
Distinctive Requirements
Demonstrated Competence in ASL

McDaniel’s minor in ASL Studies offers a variety of courses related to the language, culture, and literature of Deaf people in the United States and Canada. This program of study includes various opportunities for immersion in the language and culture of Deaf people, including an option to be a visiting student for a semester at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and completing a January Term in an ASL environment.

Experiential Learning, at McDaniel and Beyond

While you’re here, you can live in the ASL House on McDaniel’s campus. You’ll also have the opportunity to attend Gallaudet University for a semester as a visiting student.

Future Career Paths

Students who complete the minor in ASL Studies will be well prepared to apply for McDaniel’s Master of Science in Education for the Deaf.

Additionally, experience in ASL can supplement McDaniel's pre-med or pre-health track, giving you a distinctive highlight on your graduate school application.

Distinctive Courses

ASL 1101 - American Sign Language I

An introduction to the grammar and structure of American Sign Language (ASL) as a second language learning experience for students with no or limited knowledge of ASL. Immersion and interpersonal communication will be emphasized. Students learn grammar in the context of communicative activities. The Signing Naturally I units 1 through 6 including additional cultural information will be covered. The course includes language laboratory that encourages development of sign skills and is an integral component of the course.

ASL 2212 - American Sign Language IV

This advanced American Sign Language course focuses on proficiency in receptive and expressive skills. The Signing Naturally II and III series, including in-depth cultural information and appropriate cultural behaviors will be used. The course includes language laboratory that encourages development of sign skills and is an integral component of the course. An assessment of signing skills (ASLPI) may be required.

ASL 2230 - Educational and Life Experiences of Deaf People

A general orientation to the life experiences of Deaf people with emphasis on their educational experiences. An overview of the historical, philosophical, and social aspects of Deaf education and the lives of Deaf people in the United States will be included.

ASL 3339 - ASL Literature and Deaf Literature

This course offers a cultural and literary analysis of ASL and Deaf-related literature in contemporary society. This course presents a selection of major works in text, cinema, and video. It will explore literary style and register, grammatical features, and linguistics expression in a cultural context.

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Special Opportunities

Grad students using sign language.

M.S. in Deaf Education

For students wishing to pursue a career in teaching Deaf students, McDaniel College offers a nationally recognized graduate program in Deaf Education.

The ASL Studies minor provides a critical foundation for the graduate degree and includes courses that satisfy prerequisites for Deaf Education. All courses are taught in ASL.

McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.