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Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language Studies

About the program

Mission: To prepare students with competencies in ASL linguistics, literature and Deaf culture; an understanding of the role of the sociolinguistic aspects of signed languages and Deaf communities; and the roles of Deaf history, Deaf culture and cultural diversity in American society.


Careers: Opportunities include deaf rehabilitation counseling, deaf education, ASL teacher, linguistics, research specialist, consultant, and deaf/hearing interpreting. Successful graduates are prepared in ASL linguistics and deaf culture, and are sought after for non-interpreter

ASL community

Local deaf community events:

WOU Deaf Club: Please check back for the meeting schedule.

ASL Club: Please check back for more information.

Deaf events:
Deaf Nation
ASL films
Kissfist Magazine

positions where they must interact in ASL (e.g., schools and other programs for the deaf, video relay services and other businesses catering to deaf clientele). The degree also is preparation for graduate programs where this language and cultural knowledge is required (e.g., rehabilitation counseling and teacher education).


Link to current WOU catalog (.pdf). See page 45.

Link to course descriptions.

Link to video clips prepared by students in the program.


Tutors: ASL tutors are available by appointment throughout the academic year. Please contact us for more information.


History of the program: The Oregon University System approved a major in American Sign Language Studies in 1997. In 2005, WOU’s administration approved the ASL Studies major and student recruitment began. Since the ASL Studies major was approved in 1997, there have been several changes at the university and in the College of Education. We have worked with linguistics faculty on the linguistics prerequisite courses and, because there are so many more linguistics offerings, agreed to their suggestion that we change listing required courses to allow for elective courses, offering ASL Studies majors more flexibility. When the ASL Studies program was approved, ASL did not fulfill the second language requirement at WOU. The program was designated as a Bachelor of Science degree. Now that ASL does fulfill this requirement, students majoring in ASL Studies receive a Bachelor of Arts degree like the other language majors at WOU.


Course of study

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:
1. Participate in Deaf culture, understanding the differences between medical and social models of deafness.
2. Evaluate issues from different cultural perspectives.
3. Demonstrate linguistic skills in American Sign Language.


American Sign Language Studies major prerequisites:
ASL 101 American Sign Language I* (4)
ASL 102 American Sign Language II* (4)
ASL 103 American Sign Language III* (4)
LING 210 Introduction to Linguistics (4)
Students should be aware that the ASL Studies program is pending revision. Students must meet with their advisor or program coordinator for a complete list of current program requirements. ASL Studies majors must have a grade of C or better in courses that are used to satisfy the major requirement.

American Sign Language studies (B.A. only: 64 credits beyond first year ASL)
Students will work with an advisor to complete 64 credit hours from the following list of approved courses
ASL 201 American Sign Language IV* (4)
ASL 202 American Sign Language V* (4)
ASL 203 American Sign Language VI* (4)
ASL 301 American Sign Language VII* (4)
ASL 302 American Sign Language VIII* (4)
ASL 303 American Sign Language IX* (4)
ASL 310 American Sign Language Cherology/Phonology (3)
ASL 315 American Deaf Culture (3)
ASL 320 American Sign Language Morphology (3)
ASL 325 American Sign Language Literature (3)
ASL 330 Special Topics in American Sign Language (3)
ASL 415 American Sign Language Syntax and Semantics (3)
ASL 420 Sociolinguistics of Deaf Communities (3)
LING 315 Structure of English I (4)
SPED 406 Special Individual Studies (1-15)
SPED 407 Seminar: ASL Studies (1-3)
SPED 408 Workshop (1-15)
SPED 409 Practicum (1-12)
Electives (8-9)
8-9 upper division credits in ASL Studies, Teacher Preparation: Deaf Education, Linguistics, or Special Education.
* Must be taken in numerical order

American Sign Language minor (18 credits)
ASL 301, 302, 303 (12)
Six additional upper division credits (6)
Students who begin coursework at a higher level than 301 may substitute other courses in consultation with their advisor. All courses for minor must be passed with a C or better. Students interested in ASL studies should contact the Special Education office at 503-838-8322,


Program faculty

Kara Gournaris, Program Coordinator & Instructor

Michael Olivier, Instructor

Katie Pfaff, Instructor

Brent Redpath, Instructor

Lyra Behnke, Instructor


Division of Deaf Studies and Professional Studies

Cheryl Davis, Ph.D., Chair
Division of Deaf Studies and Professional Studies . 503-838-8053


Kathy Heide
Administrative Program Assist.
Division of Deaf Studies and Professional Studies . 503-838-8322

Regional Resource Center on Deafness


Cheryl Davis, Ph.D., Director
Regional Resource Center on Deafness . 503-838-8053


Konnie Sayers
Grants/Contracts Technician
Regional Resource Center on Deafness . 503-838-8444