Program in American Sign Language
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400808
Charlottesville, VA 22902-4808
(434) 924-6739 Fax: (434) 924-1478
Overview 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. 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. Currently, the
American Sign Language Program offers a four-semester sequence in ASL from
the beginning through the intermediate level. We have recently expanded our
offerings to include more sections and occasional advanced clases. Due to limited
space and funding, we can only accept about 80 students per semester.
Faculty The American Sign Language Program consists
of one full-time faculty member and several part-time faculty, who together
offer expertise in a wide range of areas: Deaf history and culture; ASL linguistics;
ASL poetry, storytelling, and folklore; the local, national, and international
Deaf communities; Deaf advocacy and legal rights; sign language interpreting;
and so forth. In addition, the program regularly invites nationally-recognized
scholars and performers to visit the University through the Annual ASL/Deaf
Culture Lecture Series.
Students Students from across the University find ASL
classes a valuable complement to their programs of study. While the majority
of ASL students come from the College of Arts and Sciences, students majoring
in fields such as education, audiology, and speech-language pathology also frequently
Placement 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.
Special Resources Through the Annual ASL/Deaf Culture
Lecture Series, each year prominent Deaf people come to campus to share their
language, culture, and worldview. These events are open to the general public
and frequently draw Deaf people from all over the state. Other resources include
local sign lunches and dinners; a growing collection of American Sign Language
videotapes in the Robertson Media Center in Clemons Library; language laboratory
videos, which help students develop their receptive abilities; and the Arts
and Sciences Media Center in Cabell Hall, which has video equipment that students
use to practice expressive skills. In addition, a student organization called
DEAFS sponsors Deaf-related events for interested undergraduates.
Major Since we offer only a limited sequence of courses,
no major or minor in ASL is currently available at the University.
Language Requirement Students who successfully complete
ASL 202 may use ASL for their foreign language requirement. Classes must be
taken in sequence; once they are placed, students cannot "jump" from
one level to the next.
Additional Information For more information, consult
the program website or contact Christopher Krentz, Director of the ASL Program,
ASL 101, 102 - (4) (Y)
Elementary American Sign Language
Prerequisite: for 102, ASL 101 or successful completion of placement exam.
Introduces receptive and expressive American Sign Language skills, including
basic vocabulary, sentence structure, classifiers, use of space, non-manual
type indicators, and fingerspelling. Examines signing deaf people as a linguistic/cultural
ASL 201, 202 - (3) (Y)
Intermediate American Sign Language
Prerequisite: for 201, ASL 102 or successful completion of placement
exam; for 202, ASL 201 or successful completion of placement exam.
Continues training in American Sign Language, with focus on more complex
sentence types, signs, and idioms. Considers ASL literary forms such as poetry,
and storytelling, as well as deaf history and other related topics.
ASL 301 - (3) (SI)
Prerequisite: ASL202 or successful completion of placement interview.
Continues language and cultural instruction with emphasis on everyday conversation.
Topics include common idioms and slang, explaining rules, discussing finances
and major decisions, and storytelling techniques such as role-shifting
and narrative structure. Students will be required to interact with deaf
ASL 355 - (3) (SI)
Comparative Linguistics: ASL and English
Prerequisite: None, but ASL 101 is recommended.
Describes spoken English and ASL on five levels: phonological, morphological,
lexical, syntactic, and discourse. Compares and contrasts the two languages
on all five levels using real-world examples. Describes the major linguistic
components and processes of English and ASL. Introduces basic theories
regarding ASL structure.
ASL 475 - (3) (SI)
Topics in Deaf Studies
Examines such topics as American deaf history; ASL linguistics; deaf
education; cultural versus pathological views of deaf people; controversies
to eliminate sign language and cure deafness; ASL poetry and storytelling;
deafness in mainstream literature, film, and drama; deafness and other
minority identities; and the international deaf community.
ASL 481 - (3) (SI)
Deafness in Literature and Film
Studies representations of deaf people in literature and film over
the last three centuries. Takes a contrapuntal approach, juxtaposing
and mainstream films with works (in either English or American Sign
Language) by relatively unknown deaf artists.