Mission: To create and transmit knowledge of American Sign Language (ASL) in a climate that promotes respect for Deaf culture, Deaf history and Deaf Community.

Learning Outcome 1: Depict language mastery in ASL linguistics including the ability to express and comprehend ASL.

Learning Outcome 2: Demonstrate sensitivity and understanding of Deaf culture and Deaf history perspectives in a Global society.

Learning Outcome 3: Develop strong background knowledge skills suitable for pursuing careers in education, government, social services, graduate work and life-long learning of ASL.

History of the program: The Oregon University System approved a major in American Sign Language Studies in 1997. In 2005, WOU’s administration approved the ASL Studies major and student recruitment began. Since the ASL Studies major was approved in 1997, there have been several changes at the university and in the College of Education. We have worked with linguistics faculty on the linguistics prerequisite courses and, because there are so many more linguistics offerings, agreed to their suggestion that we change listing required courses to allow for elective courses, offering ASL Studies majors more flexibility. When the ASL Studies program was approved, ASL did not fulfill the second language requirement at WOU. The program was designated as a Bachelor of Science degree. Now that ASL does fulfill this requirement, students majoring in ASL Studies receive a Bachelor of Arts degree like the other language majors at WOU.

Careers: Opportunities include deaf rehabilitation counseling, deaf education, ASL teacher, linguistics, research specialist, consultant, and deaf/hearing interpreting. Successful graduates are prepared in ASL linguistics and deaf culture, and are sought after for non-interpreter positions where they must interact in ASL (e.g., schools and other programs for the deaf, video relay services and other businesses catering to deaf clientele). The degree also is preparation for graduate programs where this language and cultural knowledge is required (e.g., rehabilitation counseling and teacher education).

Tutors: ASL tutors are available by appointment throughout the academic year. Please contact us for more information.

Contact Us


ASL Studies Program Coordinator & Instructor, Deaf Studies & Professional Studies
503-838-8322 | behnkel@wou.edu | RWEC 139

Kathy Heide

Administrative Program Assistant, Deaf Studies & Professional Studies
503-838-8322 | heidek@wou.edu | RWEC 139