American Sign Language (ASL) Video: Resources for Learning American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) Video: Resources for Learning American Sign Language Transcript

Are you a caring person who enjoys working with people who have special needs? The study of American Sign Language (ASL) can allow you to pursue many rewarding careers. At the same time you'll be helping those who are deaf or can't speak aloud to more meaningfully interact with the world. Among opportunities available to those with an ASL background are positions as special education teachers, translators and linguists. The study of the language is also a rewarding pursuit in of itself.


American Sign Language is the primary communication method for hundreds of thousands of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Use of the language is largely limited to English-speaking areas of North America with other signing systems existing in other parts of the world. Distinct from English, ASL has its own sophisticated syntax and system of symbols. The visual language relies upon the comprehension of signs formed by hand movements, facial expressions and body positioning. ASL is nearly universally recognized as a foreign language, making it attractive to students looking to fulfill postsecondary credit requirements. Many find the study of this language so rewarding that they choose to pursue careers in special education, translation and other fields in which they can put it to use.

Typical Coursework

Students enrolled in American Sign Language programs learn how to express themselves through sign and understand the signing of others. The language is quite complex with rules that significantly differ from those of most spoken languages. For this reason, detailed courses in ASL grammar, phonetics and morphology are required for full comprehension. Most postsecondary institutions require that students pass a proficiency exam at the conclusion of their degree programs. Those who study ASL often do so in conjunction with other academic areas such as education or psychology. Courses in these and other subjects can complement students' ASL skills in a way that qualifies them for many rewarding careers. Students looking to utilize their talents in the classroom, for example, may complete coursework in effective instructional strategies.

Job Prospects

Students with an ASL background may enter a broad range of professions. Special education careers are popular with many graduates. These professionals work in public and private schools to enhance the learning of students with debilitating hearing and communication problems. Many other graduates serve as interpreters in community, business and government roles. Positions are also available as sign language instructors, speech therapists, audiologists, counselors and home workers.

Higher Learning/Graduate Opportunities

American Sign Language programs are available at postsecondary institutions located throughout the country. The vigor of these studies can vary significantly among institutions and programs. Community colleges, online schools and extension programs may offer certificate or associate programs. Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs are also widely available at many universities. Students who earn the more advanced degrees frequently pursue academic careers in teaching and linguistics.


Education programs in American Sign Language are widely available in every region of the country. Students seeking ASL-related degrees are usually interested in how people communicate with one another. Creativity, problem-solving skills and empathy are also valued attributes in ASL professions. Given the perennial shortage of qualified translators and educators working with the deaf, job prospects are generally good for graduates of American Sign Language programs.


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