American Sign Language degree meets student and employment demands

Wichita State students wanting to earn a degree in American Sign Language may follow their dreams beginning with the fall 2023 semester.

Shockers will be able to tailor the Bachelor of Arts in ASL to their interests and needs by choosing one of three tracks: The Structure of Language; Language and Culture in Context; or Interpreting Methods.

As demand for certified interpreters increases in Kansas, Wichita State’s program will help grow the talent pipeline for the state. The degree is one of only two in Kansas where students can train to become certified ASL interpreters. Candidates wanting to take the Certified Deaf Interpreter Examination are now required to have a bachelor’s degree.

The new degree is a response to demand for qualified interpreters and the need to bring an awareness of signed languages as natural languages. ASL will be a sister degree to Spanish, French and German at WSU.

The major also meaningfully addresses Wichita State’s core value to make the campus inclusive and accessible for everyone. The program will be coordinated through the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures. ASL courses attract more than 100 students who minor in sign language or take ASL to meet language requirements in Fairmount College.

It’s also expected that some MCLL majors will go the bilingual route; for example, French or Spanish plus ASL, making these students more valuable in the workplace with their expanded translation and interpreting skills.