Why study ASL at MC?

Maryville College has a rich history of teaching American Sign Language (ASL) and partnering with the local Deaf Community. Language and community bind Deaf culture, and the major in ASL & Deaf Studies provides the knowledge and experiences to explore that connection. Our program emphasizes development of fluency in ASL, exploration of the creative expression and structure of the language, and deep knowledge of and interaction with Deaf culture. The major prepares students for further study in Deaf education, linguistics, interpreting, or careers in which interaction with members of the Deaf Community is desired. If you are interested primarily in being an interpreter for the Deaf, Maryville College also has a major in ASL—English Interpreting

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Success in American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Studies requires being able to perceive signers’ faces, hand movements and body movements and being able to convey and receive ASL through these channels quickly at the natural pace of language. Also essential is the ability to perceive and process visual information and eye-hand coordination that allow effective communication. A good foundation in basic ASL is critical to advancing successfully in the Major in ASL and Deaf Studies.

The Major in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies is intended for those desiring to pursue studies in the areas of linguistics or anthropology at the graduate level or communication skills/cultural knowledge for use in counseling, social work, teaching, working in schools for the Deaf, or other service fields. Audio-visual materials are accessible for individual study of a broad cross-section of communication methods. Interactions with D/deaf and hard-of-hearing persons and regular practice using videotaping equipment are principal means for the development of skills. Successful graduates of the ASL studies major will be able to comfortably communicate in ASL receptively and expressively and to interact comfortably and appropriately in the Deaf community at entry level.

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Maryville College Works is our comprehensive career preparation program that is integrated into the College’s four-year liberal arts curriculum. Key components include assessment, advising, networking and professional experiences.

External Relationships

Knoxville Center of the Deaf
Knoxville Tennessee Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Tennessee Association of the Deaf (Knoxville)
Tennessee School for the Deaf

Meet a current student

Photo of Ashley

Ashley Argo ’20
Hometown: Murfreesboro, Tn.

Ashley worked at a summer camp for children with special needs where she first was exposed to Sign Language. She became more interested in the language and began to research it while in high school. She discovered Maryville College because of its ASL and Deaf Studies program.
“There are very few schools that offer ASL/Deaf studies, and MC’s program has a great reputation,” she said. Four years after her campus visit, Ashley is now the president of Sigma Lambda Kappa, the student organization designed to provide opportunity for those who want to be involved in the Deaf community. After MC, she plans to attend graduate school and eventually interpret and work in Deaf literacy programs.

Outcomes of Recent Gradsclick or touch to open

Photo of GabriellaGabriella Lupi ’19

Currently: An ASL teacher for Kings Park High School and
William T. Rogers Middle School on Long Island, N.Y.

Gabriella teaches Level One ASL to grades 8 through 12. She is responsible for creating lesson plans, unit tests, class work and homework. She is currently working on expanding the ASL program to 7th grade and starting an ASL club at the middle school. “Maryville College prepared me tremendously for what I’m doing now,” she said. “I was taught the skills I needed to be the best teacher I can be, whether it was to be successful in the educational field itself or just learning different teaching styles. The faculty at MC helped me every step of the way! I will forever cherish and love my time at MC. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”


Tiffany Ivens KellyTiffany Ivens Kelley ’11

Currently: Statewide Director of Field Operations, TN Department of Human Services – Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing Services

After graduating from MC, Tiffany continued her education at the University of Tennessee and received a master’s in counseling with a concentration in vocational rehabilitation with a deafness focus. In her current role for vocational rehab, she ensures that quality and timely services are provided to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind in securing employment. “MC played a huge part in the path that led me where I am today. There, I was taught the skills needed to be successful in the educational field and, most importantly, in the professional field. I cherish my education from MC.”