American Sign Language (ASL) Studies


Student signing in class

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ASL is a complete and complex language that employs signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and postures of the body. ASL is the language of the Deaf community in the United States and parts of Canada and may be a useful modality when working with young children with language or learning difficulties, or anyone who has trouble communicating orally.

Through this certificate program, UW students will learn the basics of ASL, study sociocultural aspects of Deaf communities and assist ASL instructors in teaching ASL to current students. 

Program Details

Program Requirements

Curriculum & Courses

About ASL Studies at UW

The ASL Studies certificate may be helpful to anyone in the health and education fields for learning to communicate with and understand individuals who are deaf. The certificate is a nominal recognition for students who wish to pursue more education in the fields of speech-language pathology, sign language interpreter, teacher of the deaf, preschool and K-12 education, audiology, nursing, counseling and other areas.

The ASL Studies certificate from UW recognizes basic or beginning ASL skills and foundational knowledge of Deaf Culture. The ASL Studies Certificate is not designed to meet educational requirements for any specific professional license or certification. It does not prepare or entitle a student or recipient for any certification or licensure from any state or national associations, agencies, or governmental bodies. It does not indicate ASL proficiency and does not relate to a professional endorsement for services as an interpreter.

Professor signing in class
Students practing ASL in class

The ASL classroom at the University of Wyoming is a full immersion environment. This means that silent classrooms are employed and students are fully immersed in learning and using visual language.

The classes focus on basic conversation, dialogue and vocabulary development. Students also learn ASL sentence structure and grammar, intermixed with aspects of Deaf culture. The instructors employ a highly interactive and engaging teaching style. Students are assessed on both their receptive skills (understanding what is signed) and expressive skills (producing ASL accurately).

The Five Required Courses for the ASL Studies Certificate (16 credit hours):

  • American Sign Language I. Basic knowledge of and proficiency in American Sign Language (ASL). ASL vocabulary, grammar, and pragmatics are taught through lecture, conversation and storytelling. The direct experience method, which employs ASL without speech, is used to enhance the learning process. (4 credits)
  • American Sign Language II. Second level of understanding and expression in ASL. Through lectures, conversations and stories, students learn the vocabulary, grammar, and pragmatics of ASL as well as how to sign more fluently. Translation from ASL to English is practiced. (4 credits)
  • Deaf Studies. Studies Deaf culture and Deaf history in the U.S. from the 1700s to the present. Along with difficulties concerning Deaf children as a linguistic minority, culture subjects will also include deaf community dynamics, humor, behavior, emotional development, and social interaction. (3 credits)
  • Advanced ASL. Third level of understanding and expression in ASL. Focuses on improving ASL fluency, specialized vocabulary, such as sexual and religious terms and register variation for various conversational participants. Translation from ASL to English is practiced. (4 credits)
  • Undergraduate Teaching Assistant. Students who have successfully completed the required classes, including earning an A in all the language courses, will support instructors by attending classes, holding tutor sessions, preparing lessons, and grading assignments. (1 credit) One semester credit requires 4 hours of work per week.

View the full American Sign Language Studies Certificate degree program curriculum.

Student signing in class


What Can You Do With an ASL Studies Certificate?

The ASL Studies Certificate will benefit students who wish to pursue more education in the fields of speech-language pathology, sign language interpreter, teacher of the deaf, preschool and K-12 education, audiology, nursing, counseling and other areas.

American Sign Language Studies Certificate Student Learning Outcomes and Objectives

*approved by faculty 3/29/2022

1. ASL Studies students will demonstrate foundational skills in the American Sign Language

Mastery of the skill will be demonstrated by:

  • Produce accurate presentations of ASL following the five parameters of ASL.
  • Interpret fluent signers’ presentations both live and recorded on a variety of topics.
  • Demonstrate conversational skills in ASL to obtain information, exchange opinions, and express emotions.

2. ASL Studies students will understand and justify sociocultural considerations with Deaf communities

Mastery of the skill will be demonstrated by:

  • Summarize and analyze ASL Literature including poetry, art, and music.
  • Discriminate between their own culture and other cultures with an emphasis on exploring Deafness as a cultural minority.

3. ASL Studies students will evaluate and support other students that are learning basic American Sign Language

Mastery of the skill will be demonstrated by:

  • Assess other student’s homework and Receptive Exams
  • Support instructors in the classroom and hold tutor sessions for students.
  • Prepare lessons for ASL Chats/Labs and research topics relating to ASL and/or Deaf Culture
"ASL" painting

Work with our exceptional faculty

Our faculty are passionate about ASL and teaching it to others. Esther Hartsky is the ASL Studies Coordinator. She teaches American Sign Language I, II, Advanced ASL and Deaf Studies. She holds a Master's Degree in Teaching ASL and is ASLTA Certified (American Sign Language Teachers Association). Mrs. Hartsky holds certifications in NIC-RID (Nationally Certified Interpreter) and in EIPA (Educationally Certified Interpreter). The program also has part-time faculty, some are individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing and some are ASL interpreters.

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ASL Studies Program Highlights

As many of our graduates can tell you, studying ASL is a rich experience. Entering a whole new world of language isn't always easy, especially because of the different modality, but it is rewarding. Students enjoy learning to communicate with others through sign language.


Students have the opportunity to join the Wyoming chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA). It is a student-led organization that connects students with professors, helps students plan steps following graduation and hosts events for things like graduate applications, study groups and alternative careers. The ASL Studies Program also allows students to socialize with the local Deaf community during their courses.

Online Option

The ASL Studies Certificate can be completed fully online if a student desires, inviting students from across the globe to enroll and participate. Students can fulfill the TA course online as well.


Being exposed to Deaf culture and ASL was eye-opening because it illuminated a culture that is not regularly appreciated or discussed in everyday life. Learning about these things has inspired me to consider other world views and the value they offer to our current societal climate. ASL is a beautiful language!

- Wyatt Christensen

Contact Us

We're Eager to Help!

Division of Communication Disorders

University of Wyoming, College of Health Sciences

Department 3311, 1000 E. University Avenue

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-6427