American Sign Language - NIU - Foreign Languages & Literatures


American Sign Language (ASL)

Burma/MyanmarAmerican Sign Language (ASL) is a unique language spoken through the hands and not the mouth. ASL is a complex, dynamic, ever-changing language. It expresses meaning via signed words combined with facial expressions and postures of the body. As students progress through our FLSL program - which includes grammar, literature, conversation and a historical background of American Sign Language - they will also improve their fluency, accuracy and vocabulary.

ASL is the leading minority language in the United States after the “Big Four” of Spanish, Italian, German and French. Estimates range from 500,000 to 2,000,000 speakers in the U.S. alone; there are also many speakers in the U.S. alone, and slowly they are increasing in numbers every year.

Students are encouraged to take their knowledge of ASL and apply it to the deaf community and with friends outside of class. Some of these include Deaf coffee chats, broadway performances, Deaf Pride Student Organization, Silent Weekend retreats and Deaf Expo. In order to be able to fully understand the language, students are also encouraged to sign and not speak from the first day of class.

The Deaf Rehabilitation Minor is offered through Allied Health and Communication Disorders. This includes FLSL 101, 102, 201, 202 (ASL 1-4), AHRS 200 (Disabilities in Society), AHRS 327 (Introduction to Rehabilitation Services), and COMD 300 (Introduction to Audiology). Currently, the program is looking into the possibility of developing a Deaf Studies minor.