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American Sign Language

  • Why Study American Sign Language?

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    Gale DeArmin
    Assist. Professor of ASL
    814-472-3064

    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.


  • Minor in American Sign Language

    Program Options

    • American Sign Language, Minor

    See requirements: Visit the  academic catalog and scroll to the School of Arts & Letters to view degree requirements.

    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.

    Student Opportunities

    Our program includes a study abroad opportunity with the American Sign Language Immersion trip each semester to a variety of places. We also have a vibrant student organization in the the ASL Club, who enjoy teaching and sharing American Sign Language with others year-round!

    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. ~by Don Mrdjenovich 

  • American Sign Language Promo