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Home > Campuses & Centers > Annandale > Academic Divisions > Languages and Literature > American Sign Language and English Interpretation > FAQ: ASL Program/Deaf Studies Program (ASL)

Frequently Asked Questions: ASL Program/Deaf Studies Program

1. What should I consider before I enter the ASL/Deaf Studies program?

Before you enter the ASL program, you should consider a few things. First, you need to consider your desire to learn a new language and your willingness and enthusiasm for learning a visual language. Second, you should consider your educational goals. Are you going to want to use these courses for foreign language credit? If you do, are you planning to transfer to another college or university down the road? If you are, do they accept ASL as a foreign language? But, really, if you are thinking of taking ASL I just because it interests you, GO FOR IT! That's as good a reason as any to learn something new! Whether or not you go beyond that is entirely up to you (and your skill level).

If you plan to earn the Deaf Studies degree, you should also think about what your goals are. ASL IS a really cool language, but if you don't want to work in one of the fields that make use of it, a Deaf Studies degree might not be in your best interest. On the other hand, if you are interested in working with the rich and varied tapestry that is the Deaf community, it might just be perfect for you.

2. How long does it take to finish the ASL/Deaf Studies program?

The ASL Certificate can be completed in one year, taking one course each semester and two during one summer, if you achieve a satisfactory grade at each level. Some students choose to slow this timetable down in order to tackle learning a new language at a slower pace, and that decision is up to the individual student. The ASL program may begin with any semester during the school year. ASL I is offered every semester, including both summer sessions, assuming there is sufficient enrollment in the class.

The Deaf Studies degree is a transfer degree that is designed to take two years, full-time, once you have completed ASL IV. Transfer information is available here.

If you have any questions regarding your specific course of study, or timetable, please see Paula Debes.

3. What should I expect in my ASL/Fingerspelling/Deaf Culture classes?

In the ASL courses, you should expect to study in an immersion environment. What this means is that from the beginning, you should not use your voice during class. Many of our ASL teachers are Deaf, so you will not have a choice, but even our hearing teachers use a "voice-off" policy during class. Don't panic about this, our teachers are very good at conveying information without using spoken language. You will build on and expand skills learned in previous courses, and you will also expand your knowledge and awareness of deaf culture. Fingerspelling & Numbers is a course designed to help you understand and express fingerspelled words and numbers more clearly. This is an area of ASL that is difficult for many students, and this course is intended to focus on these specific areas because they are often a struggle.

Deaf Culture is a course designed to give you an intensive overview of what Deaf culture looks like and present a picture of what deaf people face in our society. It is an eye-opening course for many students, and is designed to provide both sides of many of the "hot-button" issues in the Deaf community

4. For my ASL classes, will I be required to attend events outside of class? If so, what kind?

In order to learn ASL and understand its culture, it is crucial for you to interact with the Deaf Community and attend Deaf Events. This will help you tremendously in your language learning, and is the only way you will ever truly become fluent. You will also be gaining exposure to another culture, one you will need to be comfortable with in order to work in this field. Interaction is the best way to pick up new information and learn the language in a way that cannot be taught in a classroom. The specific requirements for each course should be discussed with the professor for that course.

5. Is there a placement test for ASL/Can I test out of lower levels of ASL?

There is no placement test at NOVA’s testing Center. You will need to contact the department and set up a meeting to determine your skill level and the appropriate ASL course for you. If you have little to no prior knowledge of ASL, you need to sign up for ASL I. Please note that knowing some signs, even 100 different signs, is not enough to move you out of ASL I, however, if you have taken a course somewhere else, or have other substantial experience with the language, please see Paula Debes or Brian Leffler. One of them will administer a placement interview and tell you in which level you belong.

6. Would I need/can I get an interpreter for ASL I?

No, interpreters are not provided for our ASL language courses. Regardless of whether your professor is deaf or hearing, you will be in the same boat as all of your classmates in being expected to work in a non-speaking environment.

7. I want to know more about ASL Club meetings.

Learn about the ASL Club here.

8. What campuses offer ASL?

At this time, credit courses in ASL are only offered at the Annandale campus. Other campuses sometimes offer continuing education courses in ASL, which may allow you to place out of ASL I or II. The availability of these courses varies widely, so you will need to check with the Continuing Education Department for each campus.