American Sign Language (ASL) is the primary language of many Deaf people in the United States and Canada. Linguists recognize ASL as a fully-developed human language with its own lexicon, syntax, and morphological processes, one of over 100 naturally-occurring sign languages in the world. ASL lies at the heart of a unique culture. Deaf people who sign form a tightly-knit community with distinct social norms, values, and traditions. They have developed a growing body of literature, including ASL poetry, stories, and plays, many of which are now available on video or DVD.
The American Sign Language Program currently offers a five-semester sequence in ASL, from the beginning through the conversational level. In addition, we occasionally offer more advanced classes in Deaf Studies, linguistics, and related topics. Due to limited space and funding, we can accept about 80-120 students per semester, depending on course offerings.
The American Sign Language Program consists of three full-time faculty members (one with a joint appointment) and several part-time faculty, who together offer expertise in a wide range of areas, including ASL language instruction; Deaf history and culture; psychology and deaf people; ASL poetry, storytelling, and folklore; the local, national, and international Deaf communities; Deaf advocacy and legal rights; and sign language interpreting. In addition, the program regularly invites nationally-recognized scholars and performers to visit the University through the Annual ASL/Deaf Culture Lecture Series.
Students with prior ASL experience should contact the ASL Program before classes begin. We will arrange a diagnostic interview to ensure placement in the correct ASL course. Classes must be taken in sequence; once they are placed, students cannot "jump" from one level to the next.
Students in the College who successfully complete ASL 2020 may use ASL for their foreign language requirement.
Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture
Starting in Fall 2017, students will be eligible for a Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture. The Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture will consist of 18 credit hours above the ASL 2020 level and must include ASL 3010, Conversational ASL, and ASL 4750, Topics in Deaf Studies. A grade or C or better must be earned in each of these courses. Up to 6 credits may be transferred from other institutions in the USA or abroad upon prior approval of the Director of the American Sign Language Program. Independent Study in ASL may be counted toward the minor upon approval of the Director. Non-ASL courses (e.g., LNGS, ANTH, EDHS) having significant relation to ASL or having a significant focus or major project involving ASL may also be counted towards the minor upon approval of the Director. In order to apply for the Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture, students should meet or email the Director of the ASL Program. At that time the students and the Director will discuss the student’s plans for how ASL relates to their academic study and career plans and complete a worksheet outlining the requirements completed and the requirements the student plans to take before his/her expected graduation date. Upon completion of the minor coursework, the student will meet again with the Director to complete a declaration form that will be signed by the Director and then submitted by the student to the registrar of his/her school. Questions about the Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture should be directed to Greg Propp, ASL Program Director.
Special Resources and Events
Through the Annual UVA ASL and Deaf Culture Lecture Series, each year prominent Deaf people are invited to Grounds to share their language, art, culture, and worldview. These events are open to the general public and frequently draw people from all over the state and region. There are generally two lectures a semester, please check the Events page for the latest Lecture Series announcements. Other events include our weekly Signing Lunch at UVA and the local Deaf community monthly Silent Suppers. Available resources include a growing collection of American Sign Language videos in the Robertson Media Center in Clemons Library and videos, video and video recording equipment, and other references materials available in our ASL Offices in New Cabell Hall.
No major in ASL is currently available at the University.
Philanthropic contributions are gratefully received. They will be used to address the Program's areas of greatest need and enhance our offerings. If you would like to make a contribution, please go here.