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American Sign Language Program

American Sign Language (ASL) gives students an opportunity to acquire an understanding of the deaf community as part of human diversity. Students include ASL in their course of studies for personal reasons or because their academic and professional careers will benefit from their knowledge of ASL. 

Our current offerings include beginning and intermediate level courses.  Advanced level courses are offered upon request.  All courses focus on helping students develop linguistic skills and an understanding of the history and social aspects of the deaf culture.


ASL 178 American Sign Language Beginning (4 units)

This course introduces the student to basic knowledge about American Sign Language and deaf people. Emphasis in the course is upon acquisition of both comprehension and production skills as well as upon knowledge of the deaf community and the development of cultural awareness necessary for maximal communication interaction. Students will begin with visual readiness activities and then progress through a group of targeted lexical items taught within meaningful contexts that stress use of questions, statements, commands, and conversational rules such as attention-getting and turn-taking. Basic fingerspelling skills will also be stressed.

Prerequisite: None. This course is designed to help the non-signer and/or the beginning signer develop basic skills and knowledge in American Sign Language and deaf culture.

ASL 179 American Sign Language Intermediate (4 units)

This course is a continuation of ASL Beginning and emphasizes expansion and refinement of the fundamental comprehension and production skills covered in ASL Beginning, with the acquisition of additional functional grammatical structure and targeted lexical items. Spontaneous, interactive use of American Sign Language is stressed through discussion of Deaf Community and Deaf colleges in Bay Area events and activities, and students will continue studying information related to everyday life experiences of deaf Americans and deaf people elsewhere in the world.

This course covers areas of vocabulary, semantics, grammar and organization of ASL and English. Students look at the linguistic aspects of both languages and compare the two. The class also covers word classes and sentence structure of both languages. To assist students in understanding the structure of both languages, discussion of how languages work is included. Prerequisite: Beginning ASL or consent of the instructor.

For additional information, please see the Special Language Program web site.