American Sign Language

Can American Sign Language be used for college acceptance and credit?

This question is really a two-part conversation. Can American Sign Language fulfill admissions requirements AND can it meet course requirements to graduate while IN college?

The debate rages on about whether American Sign Language (ASL) is a foreign language.

The hang-up appears to be that most who communicate with ASL still rely on English for reading and writing. The argument becomes is it really a “foreign” language if English is still part of the equation. However, because the grammar, structure, and process is radically different from English more states are accepting it. More than half of the states accept ASL as a foreign language.

The University of New Mexico keeps a list of current universities that accept ASL to fulfill a foreign language admissions entrance requirement. If you search this topic on Google, you will find this list everywhere.

While the list does contain some Ohio schools like Miami, OSU, UC, Kent State, Findlay, and OU (actually more than I expected—I didn’t list them all here), a student is limiting themselves to one of these 191 choices when looking at colleges. This list is always subject to change as admissions requirements can change from year to year.

Some things to note about the list…

The author points out that he only adds or deletes schools when someone brings a change to his attention. He may be missing some, or he may have some which shouldn’t be there. Also, he points out that the type of acceptance can vary by school…some with formal policies and some only accept ASL within certain majors.

Use this list as a reference, but always check directly with all candidate colleges to ensure you clearly understand their requirements.

Acceptance of ASL as a foreign language is a moving target. However, it seems acceptance of ASL as a foreign language is growing.

Using ASL to fulfill a foreign language requirement for college admissions is one consideration.

A second consideration

What are the college course requirements IN a student’s major? Will ASL meet those requirements?

If a student takes 2-3 years of ASL prior to college, that may meet their entrance requirement. However, if the major requires 3 or 4 semesters of study in a language, can a student continue with ASL or will they be forced to start a different language?

A quick check of some Ohio universities shows that when a college accepts ASL for admission, they also provide coursework in ASL. Kent State has one of the largest ASL programs in the nation.

An example of a university that does not accept ASL or have ASL as a course of study is Denison. Because they do not offer the course, they do not accept ASL as credit in admissions.

Going forward, colleges seem to be walking a tricky balance. They want to accept American Sign Language as a foreign language and offer coursework in it. However, colleges are facing more financial difficulties, and programs will need to be cut. ASL could be one of them.