Deaf Cultural Studies-American Sign Language Certificate

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The Deaf cultural studies-American Sign Language certificate offers deaf and hard-of-hearing students the opportunity to understand the deaf community as an entity unto itself and within the context of society as a whole.

Knowledge, skills, and abilities learned through this program of study include: understanding the structure of ASL and the application of linguistic principles to other languages (specifically English); enhancement of bilingual skills to improve communication; increased knowledge of Deaf culture and Deaf history; a heightened sense of self-concept, self-esteem, and self-confidence; improved presentation skills; and enhanced literacy and critical thinking skills.

Candidates for this certificate must complete or have already completed an undergraduate degree program at NTID/RIT.


Deaf cultural studies-ASL, certificate, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
Choose three of the following courses: 9
   Deaf Community in the Modern World
Introduces students to American and international aspects of Deaf culture and community. Students learn about the language, norms of behavior, values and traditions of Deaf people. Historical and sociological perspectives and cross-cultural issues related to the hearing and Deaf communities are analyzed. The formation of the Deaf community and Deaf culture is studied to illustrate the meaning of Deaf Heritage and how art, sports, organizations, and technology have combined to impact the lives of Deaf people. The achievements of many Deaf people in a variety of fields are reviewed to underscore self-identity and self-advocacy issues. The study of cultural, economic and political history is used to broaden understanding of current events.
   Deaf People and Civil Rights
Students will learn the history and achievements of Deaf civil rights, as well as current challenges and future directions of Deaf culture and civil rights. Students will learn the basic history of disenfranchised groups in the United States, how the civil rights process is begun and its ultimate impact on the mainstream society. The course places special emphasis on research and analysis of the Americans with Disabilities Act and involvement in a civil rights project.
   Multiculturalism in the Deaf Community
Introduces students to multiculturalism in the Deaf community. Students learn about facts and stereotypes related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and physical challenges. The cycle and internalization of biases (attitudes) and discrimination (action) will be studied. Recognition of similarities and differences related to disability, medical, racial, ethnic, social-minority, and cultural models will be explored to understand perceptions of disabled vs. able bodied individuals.
   Structure of ASL
This course provides students with basic knowledge about the linguistic structure of American Sign Language (ASL). Through an introduction to language features, students will examine the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and discourse of ASL. Information regarding historical and cultural aspects of ASL is also introduced and discussed.
   Visual Expressions of Deaf Culture (N)
This course introduces students to Deaf Cultural Studies using stories about the Deaf experience. Students will interpret works in visual art, film, performing arts, and literature (ASL and English). Students will learn how historical/social/political and intersectional context, Deaf cultural values, and themes and symbols influence our interpretation of these creative works. Finally, the importance of collective memories for preserving Deaf cultural norms/values and promoting social justice will be addressed.
   Seminar in Deaf Cultural Studies
Using a seminar approach, this course gives students the opportunity for focused, in-depth study of a specialized topic in the field of Deaf Cultural Studies. Specific topics vary from semester to semester, and address such areas as language and communication, the arts in Deaf culture, identity and diversity in the Deaf community, and political, social and legal issues. This course is repeatable for credit.
Total Semester Credit Hours