Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions about the University of Rochester's American Sign Language program. If you have additional questions please contact us.


Will American Sign Language (ASL) be accepted toward my foreign language requirement?

There is no longer a foreign language requirement at the University of Rochester. With regard to departmental foreign language requirements, students should speak to their academic advisor.

There is some ongoing controversy surrounding the issue of whether or not ASL should fulfill foreign language requirements. For more information on this subject, Sherman Wilcox at the University of New Mexico has compiled information regarding the most common objections and answers to these questions with facts from the linguistic, anthropological, and other research literatures.

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I have taken some ASL courses already, which class should I take?

If you have previous experience or coursework in ASL, an ASL skills assessment will be conducted in our offices under the direction of senior lecturer Guillaume Chastel. The skills assessment is an informal 15–20 minute interview in conversational format. The skills assessment determines placement in the appropriate level language class (ASL 101, 102, 105, or 106).

Admission to the University of Rochester is separate from the academic departments. The skills assessment would determine class placement, but will have no bearing on your admission status.

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How can I find ASL classes in my local area?

Many local community colleges offer courses in ASL. In addition, we recommend the reference issue of the American Annals of the Deaf, published annually in April, which has a comprehensive list of services for Deaf people, and schools and classes for Deaf students, as well as local chapters of the National Association of the Deaf.

Check with your library for a copy or contact the American Annals of the Deaf, Gallaudet University, KDES, PAS 6, 800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington, DC, 20002-3695. Gallaudet University has information on deafness on its web pages at

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Does the University of Rochester ASL program offer distance learning courses?

We do not offer distance learning opportunities at this time. Our curriculum emphasizes learning through ongoing classroom interaction between students and teachers. Our program offers a full four-year BA degree, with classes in ASL as a language, in the literature and culture of the American Deaf community, and in the linguistics and psycholinguistics of signed and spoken languages.

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How can I find information about a career in interpreting?

We recommend that you contact the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

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Is the University’s ASL Program an interpreter training program?

Although we offer a course in ASL-English translation and an overview course in interpreting, our program is not an interpreter training program. However, a BA in ASL provides an excellent background for students who plan to obtain a master’s degree or other form of certification in interpreting.

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Will the University’s ASL program certify me to teach ASL?

Certification for teachers of foreign languages, including ASL, are offered through the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education. The ASL program, however, offers courses that satisfy the requirement that ASL teachers complete 36 hours of study in American Sign Language, and we offer a course preparing students to use ASL for instructional purposes.

For more information, contact the ASLTA (ASL Teacher's Association).

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