Skip to main content.

American Sign Language Minor

(HEGIS: , CIP: 16.1699 American Sign Language, Other)

Department of Linguistics

609 Baldy Hall
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-1030

Jeffrey Good

Andrew Byrne
Director of American Sign Language Program

Associated Subjects

Why study American Sign Language Minor at UB?

*Not a baccalaureate program

In the United States and most parts of Canada, Deaf people are the primary users of American Sign Language (ASL). They have created and maintain a community that shares features of ethnic communities. ASL has played a main role in how Deaf people have become a linguistic and cultural minority in the context of society. For more than 50 years, ASL has been recognized as an independent and full-fledged human language possessing a linguistic structure comprised of its own phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

ASL currently enjoys popularity as a language to study. The Modern Language Association of America released their final report in June 2019 showing that, in terms of ranking, ASL is the third most studied world language in American colleges and universities.

The UB ASL program works to identify each student’s unique strengths and use them as the basis for learning ASL. Students are provided an opportunity to be directly exposed to, and learn from, the Deaf ASL-using community living in Western New York and beyond.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this minor, students will be able to:

  • Use ASL at various levels of discourse.
  • Master target, content-specific statements, questions, and commands in ASL.
  • Initiate, conduct, and terminate simple to complex content-specific conversations.
  • Employ the fundamental grammatical features in ASL including question types, directionality, time sequenced ordering, conditional sentence types, classifiers, non-manual signals, and use of space.
  • Identify the major structural features of ASL: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. 
  • Comprehend and produce of regulating behaviors (e.g., attention getting techniques and turn taking signals).
  • Recognize ASL literature and its genres (e.g., folkloristic and single-authored works) and analyze how ASL literature is similar and dissimilar to other world literatures.
  • Demonstrate respect for American Sign Language as a living, unique, and wholly naturally occurring language and recognize that the Deaf community has their own set of cultural traditions and values.
  • Identify means and methods of systematic oppression of Deaf people.
  • Analyze social, economic, and political activities engaged in by Deaf people in the United States (e.g., social justice).
  • Refine critical analysis and synthesis skills in their ASL work related to course texts and other course-related events such as ASL presentations outside of class.

The Learning Environment

Class size is limited for language courses in order to promote each student’s participation and interaction with the instructors, as well as other students in a visually accessible environment. The use of the target language is essential in class, and, as such, classes are taught only using ASL. Aspects of Deaf culture are deeply incorporated, and all courses require students to explore and experience ASL with the Deaf community directly by attending ASL immersion events within the community. A visually accessible medium is incorporated whenever possible. Online resources and multimedia tools are heavily utilized to accommodate diverse learning styles, and to promote deep engagement and participation.

About Our Facilities

The Department of Linguistics is housed in Baldy Hall and has several dedicated classrooms and meeting spaces. The department also holds classes in centrally scheduled space throughout the campus.

About Our Faculty

The faculty of the Linguistics department includes internationally known and respected scholars, with diverse backgrounds and interests. The ASL program is directed by a full-time faculty member and supported by additional instructors. All instructors are Deaf, and the class is taught with a philosophy of full immersion, exclusively in ASL.

Faculty List Directory

Please visit the Department of Linguistics website for more information about our faculty.

Career Outlook

The ASL minor provides a foundation for students to continue their careers in education, health, government, law enforcement, interpreting, recreation, and other related fields.

Academic Advising

Academic advising within the Department of Linguistics is done by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. There are Directors assigned to Linguistics and the ASL, Chinese, German, Japanese, and Korean language programs. Students with questions about degrees within Linguistics should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Linguistics, and those with questions about the ASL, Chinese, German, Japanese, and Korean programs should consult with the Directors in charge of those programs. Students interested in one of the Languages and Linguistics concentrations within the Linguistics major are welcome to consult with either the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Linguistics or the Director in charge of the relevant language program.

Academic Advising Contact Information

The Director of the ASL Program is Dr. Andrew Byrne. His office hours are regularly posted outside his office, 611 Baldy Hall. The most effective way to reach him outside of office hours is by email.

Scholarships and Financial Support

Students in this program may qualify for scholarships and financial support from a number of sources, including:

Associated Subjects

Published: Nov 16, 2022 15:55:13