Last Wednesday, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees approved of a new American Sign Language Studies major beginning in the fall of 2020.
The decision has been a long time coming—the initial proposal began over two years ago, Linda Pelletier, UConn American Sign Language studies professor and national certified sign language interpreter, said
“Enrollment in American Sign Language classes has increased steadily since the linguistic documentation of ASL as a legitimate language beginning around 1960,” Pelletier said. “Today, nearly every state recognizes and accepts ASL as a second or world language, and a growing number of universities now offer ASL in fulfillment of foreign language requirements.”
Pelletier said there have been requests from undergraduate students for this major over the past few years, as the major will differ from the current American Sign Language and Deaf Culture and Interpreting American Sign Language and English minors.
“The major is much more comprehensive, requiring additional credits including a requirement of the most advanced ASL courses offered as well as additional course work in deaf studies,” Pelletier said.
The major will offer two concentrations: Deaf Studies or Interpreting. Some required classes for the major will be American Sign Language I and II and Intro to Sociolinguistics of the Deaf Community.
This new major will help students learn how to communicate in another language that is dominating powerful fields like technology and healthcare, Pelletier said.
“One of our primary goals is to offer a program where students are able to develop the necessary skills, attitude and knowledge to effectively engage in meaningful conversations with members of a diverse Deaf community,” Pelletier said. “As a result… students will be prepared to work in multiple disciplines and various occupations that reach beyond more traditional roles such as ASL instructors and interpreters.”
Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.