ASL Courses

*Elementary and Intermediate ASL Courses:

*ASLD 0100. American Sign Language I: Introduction to ASL, Part I.

**ASLD 0200. American Sign Language II: Introduction to ASL, Part II.

**ASLD 0300. American Sign Language III: Intermediate ASL, Part I

A separate section focusing on Medical ASL is offered in the fall semester. For description, please see below.

**ASLD 0400. American Sign Language IV: Intermediate ASL, Part II


**Enrollment in ASLD courses above the 0100 level requires a permit from the department. Placement into one of these levels can be achieved through successful completion of the previous level and/or demonstrated proficiency of that level. Proficiency evaluations are done, upon request, by the program director.  If you are interested in an ASL placement exam, please contact the Director, Dr. Jami Fisher at


**ASLD 0300-680 American Sign Language IV (Medical).

This course is a continuation of ASL and its fundamental structures, with a focus on medical situations and settings. It is a parallel course to the other ASLD 0300 sections, and follows all goals of ASLD 0300 with a concentration in reinforcing negotiation skills and vocabulary in medical settings as well as a continued awareness of deaf cultural tendencies. The course is conducted in ASL.


Advanced ASL Courses:

ASLD 1030. American Sign Language V/Advanced ASL (offered every other fall semester, in odd years).  This course is an Advanced ASL course in which students learn and practice advanced ASL skills via direct instruction as well as content-based discussion and narrative. The second half of this course centers on American Deaf history, starting with its pre-history in 18th century France through modern day American experiences.


ASLD 1031. Deaf Literature, Performance, Art, and Film. (offered every other fall semester, in even years; satisfies the College’s Cultural Diversity in the United States requirement).

This course is an advanced/conversational ASL course that explores several key topics related to Deaf culture and the Deaf experience s influence on literature (both written and signed), theatre, fine and visual arts, and film -both Deaf and hearing directed and acted. Using only ASL in class, students learn about various perspectives and approaches to each of the themes and topics of the course. Some questions to explore and answer in this course will be: What is Deaf Literature? The Deaf Lens: What is it? How is it different from a hearing perspective on film? How is Deafness expressed differently in each of the arts discussed in this course? Analysis and discussion will come from readings as well as viewings of various types of Deaf arts.


ASLD 1033. Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) in ASL/Deaf Studies

For this course, students will attend a local Deaf community partner organization on a weekly basis where they well participate in and contribute to the organization via mutually developed activities and projects. Students will also have formal class on a weekly basis with discussion and activities centering on reflection of community-based experiences in the target language via linguistic as well as cultural lenses. Additionally, drawing from the required Linguistics and other ASL/Deaf Studies coursework, students will develop an inquiry question and conduct preliminary community-centered research to analyze sociolinguistic variations of ASL and Deaf cultural attitudes, behaviors, and norms.  Ongoing reflections and discussions–formal and informal–on Deaf cultural/Theoretical topics drawing from readings and community experiences will be integral to the course experience.  Concurrent or past coursework in LING 078 (Deaf Culture) and permission from the department required for this course.

Important:  This class requires students to have required state clearances for working in schools in place before the semester starts. Students should be in contact with the ASL program director during advanced registration period in order to secure a placement in the community. Placement in and registration for the course can otherwise not be guaranteed.


ASLD 1032.  Deaf Culture (An Academically Based Community Service course; satisfies the College’s Cultural Diversity in the United States requirement)

This course is an advanced/conversational ASL course that explores several key topics related to Deaf Culture.  Using only ASL in class, students will read and discuss books, articles, and films related to the following topics:  Deaf History, Deaf Identity, Deafness as Asset, Communication Issues and Pathological Perspectives on Deafness, Deafness and Education, Deaf/Hearing Family Dynamics.  Language growth will stem from direct instruction as well as through the course of class conversation. Students will collaborate with the instructor and our Deaf community liaison to develop and host an event that is accessible to Deaf and hearing people alike.

*At least one section of Elementary and Intermediate ASL (LING 071-074) are offered each semester.  Satisfactory completion of the four-course sequence satisfies the College language requirement.


ASLD 1039, Penn Global Seminar: Disability Rights and Oppression: Experiences within Global Deaf Communities   (Special course–not offered regularly)

This course explores the linguistic and social statuses of global deaf communities in order to understand the specific experiences of Italian deaf people and their quest for national recognition of their sign language (LIS). Topics to be explored include the following: an overview of the cultural model of being deaf; the social and historical underpinnings of deaf people’s oppression and their individual and collective quest for parity with hearing people; social construction of deafness as disability and deafness-as-asset (Deaf-Gain); sign language as a human right; language policy and practice as it relates to deaf people’s access to or restriction from learning a sign language as a first language. We will use first-hand accounts via text and film to elucidate a variety of global deaf perspectives. Ultimately, students will apply their theoretical investigations from this course in their socialization and engagement with deaf Italians in Siena and Rome, Italy. Students will be given a brief introduction to Italian Sign Language (LIS) during the semester course and will have an intensive language and cultural immersion in Siena, Italy in order to meaningfully engage Italian Deaf community members while in Rome.

Offered Spring 2019; 2021; 2022; 2023; 2025