American Sign Language

students in a sign language class at Casper College

Degree info

For requirements and more information about this program, view its listing in the course catalog:

Fun facts

Did you know that...
  • ASL [American Sign Language] is not a universal language.
  • ASL is a language completely separate and distinct from English. It contains all the fundamental features of language—it has its own rules for pronunciation, word order, and complex grammar. (1)
  • There are hundreds of sign language dialects in use around the world. Each culture has developed its own form of sign language to be compatible with the language spoken in that country. (3)
  • ASL is the language of a sizeable minority. Estimates range from 500,000 to two million speakers in the U.S. alone; there are also many speakers in Canada. Compared to data from the Census Bureau, which counts other language minorities, ASL is the leading minority language in the U.S. after the "big four": Spanish, Italian, German, and French. (2)
  • The exact beginnings of ASL are not clear, but some suggest that it arose more than 200 years ago from the intermixing of local sign languages and French Sign Language (LSF, or Langue des Signes Française). (1)
  • ASL has regional variations in the rhythm of signing, form, and pronunciation. Ethnicity and age are a few more factors that affect ASL usage and contribute to its variety. (1)
  • Modern-day ASL originated in France. England has its own version of sign language that is very different from ASL. An American who only knows ASL will have a hard time communicating with someone from England. (3)
  • Existing research suggests that there may be benefits to teaching signing to hearing infants who have not yet developed vocal communication (5)
  • Babies can communicate physically 6-8 months prior to communicating verbally. (3)
  • Limited research suggests that baby sign language might give a typically developing child a way to communicate several months earlier than those who only use vocal communication. (6)
  • ASL is even an independent research discipline, with graduate courses and doctoral studies in universities in the United States and abroad. (4)
  • Even though ASL is historically a more truly "American" language than English is, because of its minority status it is generally classed as a foreign language in American schools and colleges. (2)
  • According to Sherman Wilcox, Ph.D., from the University of New Mexico there are over 185 colleges and universities in the United States who recognize ASL as a foreign language. (2)

Resources:

  1. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/american-sign-language
  2. http://libguides.gallaudet.edu/content.php?pid=114804&sid=991835
  3. http://www.byui.edu/associations/asl/asl-fun-facts
  4. http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=100168
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868823/
  6. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddlet-health/ex...

“I used to be scared of deaf people. I worried I would not know how to interact with them because they’re “different”. I thought that their lack of a spoken language restricted them. I feared the unknown. After learning what I have about Deaf/deaf people, the Deaf community and Deaf culture, I have gained an understanding and an openness I never knew I was lacking. Through the different social event this semester and the visitors we have had in class, I realized that maybe I was the one who was confined by my lack of language. I have a new and expanded outlook on the importance of communication and the need for a language.” — ASL 1200 American Sign Language I student

“Two of the deaf people in attendance recognized me [at a public social event]... We exchanged pleasantries and even that little bit fueled this new found fire inside me to learn and grow in ASL. I could not be more grateful that I decided to take ASL. It has opened my eyes and brought me into a new world and a new understanding that I may never have had the opportunity to witness before.” — ASL 1220 American Sign Language II student

"The environment feels discussion-based…plenty of hands on activities."  — ASL 1220 American Sign Language II student

"The atmosphere in class was always fun and entertaining." — ASL 1220 American Sign Language II student

“My favorite thing about ASL is it is one of the easier classes to engage in because I enjoy the activities and find the readings interesting.” — ASL 2200 American Sign Language  III student

Contact

Academic Assistant, School of Fine Arts & Humanities
Office: MU 137
307-268-2606
Department Chair;
World Languages Instructor (Spanish)
Office: LH 288
307-268-3116
Dean, School of Fine Arts and Humanities
Office: MU 132
307-268-2537