ASL program offers two degrees

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American Sign Language counts as a foreign language at some universities.

By Huguette Buduri

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

The American Sign Language and interpreter training program teaches the language of American Sign Language to students as well as the culture of the deaf community.

The ASL program trains students to become either a sign language interpreter or a deaf support specialist, Julie Razuri, ASL coordinator, said Oct. 15.

Tom Cox, new chair of world languages, explained the unique nature of the deaf community.

He said students who will work with the deaf community need to learn certain protocols and behaviors common to that group.

For example, if one is working with a group of deaf people and needs to leave the room to go to the restroom, it is appropriate to tell someone in the group where the person is going, Cox said.

People in the deaf community need more information to fully communicate.

There has always been a demand for interpreters, he said.

“Consequently, deaf people often find themselves without access to communication,” he said.

Students don’t need to have any training or knowledge of American Sign Language to enroll in ASL courses, and the program does not start with any prerequisites, Razuri said.

Cox said some students take ASL courses to satisfy foreign language requirements at some universities.

“It’s interesting to some people who come to the ASL classes because they want it as a foreign language, but then they decide it is so much fun, they end up staying and make it their major,” Cox said.

The challenges they face in ASL are that most students think American Sign Language is just English but on the hands, he said.

It has its own its own grammar and syntax, he said.

Also, most of the language instruction in the classes is done by a immersion, which is a method of teaching a foreign language. In ASL, the teacher teaches the whole course in sign language.

Students who are trying to learn the language have to be able to function without using their ears, he said.

Some students who graduated from the ASL program were able to go to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only liberal arts college in the U.S. for deaf students, she said.

The program at this college offers an Associate of Applied Science degree for both interpreting and deaf support specialist.

To qualify for either degree, students must pass the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters, a state exam that qualifes students to work in K-12 or interpreting for low-stakes types of assignments in the community.

Enrollment this semester is 663 students. In spring 2017, 687 students were enrolled.

The American Sign Language program has more than 26 courses.

If students are interested in information about American Sign Language and interpreter training , they can go by Room 114 of Nail Technical Center or visit https://www.alamo.edu/sac/academics/program-index/creative-and-communication-arts/american-sign-language/

For advising, call Cox or Razuri at 210-486-1115 or email tcox@alamo.edu.

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