American Sign Language (ASL) is a natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages yet has distinct grammatical structures that are supported by a rich morphology system. Because ASL is a visual language it has unique syntax and phonology components, generally referred to as the five parameters. ASL is a predominant language used by culturally Deaf communities in North America and in numerous regions of the world. It is also recognized as a complete language by the Modern Language Association and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
The minor in ASL at Indiana University is devoted to intensive acquisition of the language. An in-depth understanding of Deaf culture also reinforces an appreciation of the Deaf experience through social, historical, and cultural lenses. ASL minors will acquire an interdisciplinary understanding of the language and its culture and how innovative solutions for the issues that perpetuate the marginalization of Deaf people can be created for the betterment of society in general. The ability to communicate in ASL with Deaf people and other ASL users is an invaluable asset, especially in assistive professions such as hearing and speech pathology, nursing, social work, criminal justice, advocacy, and more. Additionally, a combination of ASL competency and cultural knowledge are strengths that create strong candidates for higher-level academic pursuits and future employment opportunities.
This minor does not lead to a certification or an endorsement for ASL teaching careers nor does it provide qualifications in ASL interpreting, Deaf Education, or any other related professional field.