Not all communication is done orally. American Sign Language is the visual and motor medium of communication for deaf individuals and the deaf culture. Commonly used in the United States, Canada and parts of Mexico, ASL has its own grammatical rules yet does not have any written form.
A major in American Sign Language will allow you to focus on the scholarly and scientific study of the development, structure and use of these languages. Instruction in the syntax, phonology, and morphology are just some of the aspects of this study. Course load for this major includes Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced ASL courses, History and Culture of the American Deaf Community, Art of Translation, Narrative and Poetic Styles in ASL, and Language Development.
Students must have good hand-eye coordination and memory as they learn to sign a complete new vocabulary of words and letters as well as learn grammar and syntax. Patience and persistence are critical to learning any language.
Before entering college, you can prepare by taking introductory classes in ASL. It may also be helpful to gain field experience both before and during college, working with the hearing-impaired population. This would allow students to understand this form of communication first hand.
Graduates with a degree in American Sign Language can find jobs in a variety of fields. You may become a teacher or professor to deaf or hearing-impaired students, or teach ASL as a second language to hearing students. There is also significant need to teach ASL to adults. You may also choose a career as an interpreter, working for video relaying services, schools, government agencies and healthcare institutions. Some government officials and doctors are fluent in ASL; this decreases the risk of error and allows a firm bridge of communication.
Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in American Sign Language might open up.