DePaul University College of LAS > Academics > Modern Languages > Student Resources > Language Resources >
American Sign Language
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Why Study ASL?
American Sign Language is a complex,
visual-spatial language that includes the hands, body movements and
facial expressions to convey a message. As one of the fastest growing
languages, it is the primary means of communication among Deaf people
and the 4th most studied modern language at colleges and universities in
North America. ASL is a fascinating language to learn and can be
beneficial both personally and professionally.
One key advantage
of learning ASL is the improvement of nonverbal communication skills.
According to one study, only 7% of the meaning conveyed by a typical
utterance regarding feeling or thought comes from the actual spoken
words. Another 38% percent is conveyed by voice and tone while the
remaining 55% percent is derived from body language. When the body
language conflicts with the words, a listener will typically pay more
attention to non-verbal messages (Mehrabin, 1972). How much more could
humans understand as a result of being attuned with the non-verbal
messages happening around us on a daily basis?
A mastery of ASL could provide an edge in seeking employment.
- Educators ~ Today more than ever it’s common
for educators to have children who are deaf or hard of hearing in their
classroom. Many opt to learn ASL for this reason alone; however, others
decide to become certified to teach ASL in the public schools. Educators
with ASL teacher certification are qualified to teach ASL to both
hearing and deaf students.
- First responders ~ According to the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), hearing loss is the third
most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults. As the
population ages and the incidence of hearing loss increases, sign
language becomes more and more relevant – especially in emergency
situations when communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of
hearing is critical.
- Service providers ~ Social
workers, counselors, psychologists and medical professionals are also
finding it beneficial to learn sign language. In fact, the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that hospitals provide an
appropriate means of communication to any patient, family member or
visitor who is deaf or hard of hearing. The ADA also covers legal,
education, law enforcement and employment systems.
Why Study ASL at DePaul?
DePaul University offers a minor in ASL. It is designed
to provide students with a background in ASL and Deaf Culture. Students
may obtain entry-level jobs in settings working with the Deaf and Hard
of Hearing in a classroom setting, as a residential supervisor,
vocational trainer and many more. A minor in ASL will also lay the
groundwork for students to become advocates and allies of the Deaf and
Hard of Hearing community.
DePaul offers a wide variety of major
concentrations to choose from. Another popular approach with ASL minors
is to combine an ASL minor with a related major field of study such as
Education, Counseling, or Psychology for a more well rounded grounding
in the issues relating to the Deaf and hard-of-hearing in their field.
is a large Deaf and Hard of Hearing population in Chicago and studying
ASL at DePaul gives you a greater opportunity for exposure to a diverse
community and to experience both the language and its associated culture
through practical application. In doing so the student is offered
networking opportunities from various events, deaf related organizations
and agencies which can lead to an enriching experience and better job
- Chicago Hearing Society ~ Chicago
Hearing Society (CHS) empowers people who are Deaf, DeafBlind or Hard
of Hearing to communicate and collaborate by providing an array of
social services, advocacy, support programs and assistive technology
- Illinois Association for the Deaf ~ Established in 1877, the IAD was shaped by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the state level. These beliefs remain true to this day and inspire those who continue to protect and advance the interests of the Illinois deaf and hard of hearing community.IAD is committed to addressing numerous advocacy causes, including early intervention, education, employment, healthcare, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership and more. The IAD carries out its statewide advocacy work through coalition efforts with deaf and hard of hearing organizations, as well as coalitions representing cross-disability organizations.
- Gallaudet University
~ Gallaudet University is the world's only university designed to be
barrier-free for deaf and hard of hearing students. Gallaudet strives to
bring excellence to the campus through a variety of backgrounds,
skills, experiences and perspectives.
- National Association of the Deaf ~ The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States of America. The mission of the NAD is to promote, protect, and preserve the rights and quality of life of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States of America.
- ASL Honor Society
(ASLHS) ~ ASLHS seeks to enrich the learning experience of those
studying ASL. Some of the benefits offered by the ASL Honor Society
include: awarding honor cords and medals based on academic achievement,
encouraging service learning projects that benefit the ASL community,
hosting the annual Deaf Art and ASL Literature competitions, awarding
the only national scholarships to students majoring or minoring in ASL,
Deaf Studies, Deaf Education, and Interpreter Education; and financially
supporting ASL education via grants for teachers to assist in
purchasing equipment or materials for use in the classroom.
- ASL Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) ~ ASLPI is a holistic language evaluation used to determine global ASL proficiency.
- Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission
(IDHHE) ~ IDHHC is an executive state agency that promotes education
and awareness of the legal requirements for effective communication on
behalf of people with hearing loss in Illinois. IDHHC is governed by
eleven (11) Commissioners who are appointed by the Governor's office. At
least six (6) of the Commissioners must be deaf, hard of hearing, or
DeafBlind. The Commissioners meet on a quarterly basis at the IDHHC
office in Springfield, Illinois.
- Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
(RID) ~ RID, a national membership organization, plays a leading role
in advocating for excellence in the delivery of interpretation and
transliteration services between people who use sign language and people
who use spoken language.
Language Proficiency Development
- ASL dictionary
- Spread the Sign ~ Spreadthesign
is an international Leonardo da Vinci project within the Transfer of
Innovation program, which is supported by the European Commission
through the Swedish International Program Office of Education and
Training. Our goal is to share sign languages from different countries
via the Internet.
- ASLized ~ ASLized fosters the integration of American Sign Language (ASL) educational research into visual media and literacy.
- ASL app ~
THE ASL APP is all about teaching you conversational ASL. Packed with
1000+ signs and phrases, easy navigation and features, with different
signers, The ASL App is designed to make learning easy, accessible, and