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American Sign Language

ASL is an integral part of the Deaf community and Deaf culture. Through a minor in ASL, students will have the opportunity to acquire a respect for the diverse deaf population, appreciate the uniqueness of the culture and understand the ethical issues that the Deaf community faces.

  • Why Study ASL?

    A minor in American Sign Language (ASL) enables students to develop the necessary knowledge of the cultural norms, values and traditions within the Deaf community, as well as the ability to use ASL in a one-on-one setting at a conversational level. Students will be aware of the pathological perspective of deafness that is typically held by the dominant American hearing culture, and possess the ability to navigate between both the cultural and pathological perspectives.

    • ASL Club
    • ASL Study Abroad Program
    • What Students Learn
    • Program Roots
    ASL Club

    ASL Slider 2The ASL Club is a vibrant student organization who enjoys working with the Deaf community to create awareness of Deaf Culture and American Sign Language!  One of the first steps in breaking down walls of oppression or discrimination is to create awareness. Many people have few experiences with a person from the Deaf community and often view deafness as a disability.  The Club, with support from the Deaf Community spreads awareness and allows people to realize that Deaf individuals are highly successful  just like any hearing person.

    ASL Club Recognitions:

    • The ASL Club has also received Nomination for Outstanding Organization through the Student Government Association
    • ASL Honor Society: SFU officially has a chapter of the ASL Honor Society.
    • The ASL club is using their funds to sponsor a Deaf person to come to the Dominican Republic trip with us. The club will donate $1000 for this person to come on the trip. The benefit of this is that it is important to a member of the Deaf community help lead us during anytime we are reaching out to serve Deaf individuals. It is difficult to properly serve in a community if you do not have some understanding of the culture. So having a Deaf individual travel with us will help us to better serve and learn.

    Learn more about the ASL Club

    ASL Study Abroad Program

    Our program includes a study abroad opportunity with the American Sign Language Immersion trip each semester to a variety of places. 

     

    Learn more about ASL Study Abroad

    What Students Learn

    ASL is an integral part of the Deaf community and Deaf culture. Through a minor in ASL, students will have the opportunity to acquire a respect for the diverse deaf population, appreciate the uniqueness of the culture and understand the ethical issues that the Deaf community faces. Students will develop a relationship with the Deaf community through their knowledge of Deaf culture and strong conversational skills in ASL. Their educational experience will grow through interaction, and their careers will be enhanced by having the unique ability to use ASL.

    Program Roots

    History of ASL at SFU

    Karen Walkney-Mrdjenovich PICThe growth of American Sign Language at SFU started with Karen Walkney-Mrdjenovich’s vision to implement a comprehensive curriculum of ASL linguistics and Deaf Cultural Studies. Deaf since birth, Karen was an experienced teacher motivated by a strong desire to preserve her native language and implement a widespread awareness of Deaf Culture to the hearing population. 

    Like other cultures, Deaf culture in the US has many nuances and regional differences that are critical to the study of ASL. Important to Walkney-Mrdjenovich was the development of an ASL minor that offered students an in-depth knowledge and exposure to the culture, arts, and linguistics of the Deaf. Students who minor in ASL at Saint Francis will learn much more than the language itself: an innate understanding of a non-verbal, visual language such as ASL requires the academic research and sociological and cultural study offered through SFU’s robust curriculum. 

    Karen Walkney-Mrdjenovich’s vision was accomplished in 2011 when American Sign Language, initially implemented as an Honors Program elective, was officially approved as a minor and rapidly grew to a University-wide language option. —Don Mrdjenovich