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The ASL Program

The ASL Program at UVA

Welcome to the UVA ASL Program!  American Sign Language is now the third-most studied language in colleges and universities. Chances are great you’ll know someone in your lifetime who is Deaf, whether as a family member, friend, colleague, client, patient, etc.  Why not be able to communicate with them in ASL?  It is the goal of our ASL Program to provide the best undergraduate education in ASL available anywhere with a big part of that being creating a community of language learners that emulates the closeknit, supportive Deaf community.  We have a unique, self-developed first year language curriculum that stresses communicative activities and a camaraderie among our students, a wealth of extra-curricular activities to promote our students’ language development, and professors and instructors (most of whom are Deaf) with many years of teaching experience and a passion for sharing and imparting their language and culture with our students.


The UVA American Sign Language Program currently offers a five-semester language sequence in ASL, from the beginning through the conversational level, as well as several elective courses in Deaf Studies, linguistics, Deaf history, Deaf and CODA representations, and other ASL and Deaf culture topics (check the “COURSES” tab for a listing and descriptions of our course offerings). 


Check out all our course offerings and descriptions under the “COURSES” tab and the many activities and events available to our students and the ASL community under the “EVENTS” tab or this website.


The College of Arts and Sciences World Language Requirement, Advanced Placement

Students in the College may use ASL for their World Language Requirement by successfully completing the four-semester language sequence of ASL 1010, 1020, 2010, and 2020; or by placing into a higher level and completing through ASL 2020; or by placing into ASL 3010.  Advanced placement for students who have previously taken ASL courses or have other extensive experience with ASL are done through a Placement Interview.  The Placement Interview consists of two parts.  The first part is a conversation with one or more of our ASL faculty members that follows the vocabulary, subject matter, and language skills of our courses sequence to see where you “top off” in your present language skills (e.g., starting with introductions and talking about yourself and advancing to talking about or describing your family, school, activities, food and drink, describing people, giving directions, describing objects, discussing travel, describing rooms, explaining rules, etc.).  The second part is a short Deaf culture quiz that tests your knowledge of important aspects of Deaf culture, including important historical events in Deaf history and social norms, values, and traditions of the Deaf community.  After both parts are completed, your placement recommendation will be discussed with you and we’ll explain your options for placement (understand your being placed in an upper-level course will depend on there being a space available in a class, which given the demand for our courses might not be available).


Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture

A Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture has been available since Fall 2017.  The Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture consists of 18 additional elective course credit hours above the ASL 2020 level and must include ASL 3010, Conversational ASL, and ASL 4750, Topics in Deaf Studies (some substitutions of elective courses may be approved by the ASL Program Director).  A grade or C or better must be earned in each of these courses. Up to two credit hours can be earned through the ASL Shea Language House participation and applied towards the ASL Minor.  Up to 6 credits may be transferred from other institutions or abroad upon prior approval of the ASL Program Director. Independent Study in ASL, ASL 4993, can be counted toward the ASL Minor, but the approval of and enrollment in Independent Study are up to the ASL Program Director or other ASL faculty member.  Non-ASL courses (e.g., LNGS, ANTH, EDHS) having a significant relation to ASL, deafness, Deaf culture or other relevant topic or having a significant focus or major project involving these subjects may also be counted towards the minor upon approval of the Director.


Understand that because most of our elective courses are accessible to all students through the use of interpreters for our Deaf faculty members, you do not have to wait until you’ve completed ASL 2020 or 3010 in order to start taking those courses that count towards the ASL Minor.


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 discuss how to complete the office Minor Declaration Form to be submitted through the DocuSign process for approval by all relevant parties.  Questions about the Minor in ASL and Deaf Culture should be directed to the ASL Program Director.



The ASL Program at UVA is currently comprised of four full-time faculty members (one with a joint appointment with the English Department) and several part-time instructors teaching our language courses or facilitating our Drill sections.  Our faculty members, most of whom are Deaf, together offer expertise in a wide range of areas, including ASL language instruction, Deaf culture and history, Linguistics, representations of deafness in literature and film, national and international Deaf communities, Deaf advocacy and legal rights, sign language interpreting, and other areas.  Additionally, our ASL and Deaf Culture Lecture Series often brings several prominent faculty members from other institutions, including Gallaudet University, to the Grounds of UVA to lecture in their areas of research and expertise.


Course Demand and Registration

We are a small language program with limited offerings and face a huge demand for our courses, which makes getting into our courses very difficult.  The best strategy for getting into our courses is to register for the beginning ASL course, ASL 1010, during the summer orientation prior to the fall semester of your first year when we have the most course offerings available.  Only one other beginning class is available for students who aren’t first-year students and that class fills up very quickly during the spring registration period.  We prefer students enroll who are interested in fulfilling their College World Language Requirement and/or the ASL Minor and otherwise give preference to students who are deaf or hard of hearing, have deaf or hard of hearing family members, and/or are looking to serving deaf or hard of hearing populations in their future occupations (like deaf/special education teachers, mental health counselors, speech-language pathology, health professionals, etc.).  Once you are in and advancing through your ASL courses – again due to our limited offerings – we suggest you plan and build your course schedules around two or more of the available ASL class times as the classes might fill up before your registration time.  If you have any questions about registration, availability, preferences, etc. please contact or (better) stop by and see the ASL Program Director.


ASL Major

No major in ASL is currently available at UVA.



Philanthropic contributions are gratefully received. They will be used to address the Program's areas of greatest need and enhance our offerings and help bring in the best presenters and performers for our ASL and Deaf Culture Lecture Series (see the “EVENTS” tab).  Consider giving for the future of the ASL Program by clicking on one of the several support/donate buttons located on this website.

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