Deaf Cultural Studies-American Sign Language Certificate

Immerse in the rich world of Deaf culture with an American Sign Language Certificate. Sign, learn, and connect.

Overview for Deaf Cultural Studies-American Sign Language Certificate

The Deaf cultural studies-American Sign Language certificate offers deaf, hard-of-hearing, and 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.

The certificate in Deaf cultural studies/ASL is offered to students enrolled in degree programs at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and the other RIT colleges as an enhancement to their portfolio of general academic, career, and technical skills. It is not a stand-alone certification. The certificate offers you an opportunity to learn about historical, anthropological, linguistic, literary, artistic, and multicultural aspects of deaf people’s lives. Courses expose you to a breadth and depth of topics in Deaf cultural studies and ASL, and address NTID General Education goals for critical thinking, writing, and public presentations.

The overall program goals of the Deaf cultural studies/ASL certificate are to:

  • study the Deaf experience from the perspective of a disenfranchised minority group
  • understand and appreciate Deaf culture
  • promote the development of English and ASL literacy
  • promote the development of critical thinking skills
  • promote the development of communication skills

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Deaf Cultural Studies-American Sign Language Certificate

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Deaf Cultural Studies - American Sign Language, certificate, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
Choose three of the following courses: 9
    Structure of American Sign Language 
This course is designed to provide 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, discourse and pragmatics of ASL. Information regarding historical and cultural aspects of ASL is also introduced and discussed. (Prerequisites: This class is restricted to NTID supported students who have completed NASL-210 or equivalent course with a minimum grade of C or better or who have an ASL placement score of 4 or 5.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Summer).
   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. (NTID Supported Students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Deaf Culture and Contemporary Civilization
This course is intended to provide students with an understanding of contemporary civilization and how it affects Deaf people’s lives. Students will learn key influences and develop an understanding of their impact on Deaf people via the topics of language, psychology, history, bioethics and human rights. Students will study a variety of social and cultural groups in order to understand the value of Deaf people in contemporary civilization. (Students in AOS or CARPRP-UND are not eligible to take this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
   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. (NTID Supported Students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   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. (NTID Supported Students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Visual Expressions of Deaf Culture
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   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. (NTID Supported Students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Total Semester Credit Hours

Admissions and Financial Aid

Applicants for the Deaf cultural studies-American Sign Language certificate must be students in good standing in an undergraduate program at RIT, or hold an undergraduate degree from RIT.

Candidates must complete or have already completed an undergraduate degree program from RIT to receive this certificate.

Learn How to Apply