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

Samantha Burke '19

Samantha Burke '19
Hometown: Louisville, Ky.

Samantha became interested in American Sign Language because her best friend in high school was Deaf. During her college search process, Samantha researched degrees for ASL/Deaf Studies and found that Maryville College was one of the few schools offering it as a field of study.
“I scheduled a campus visit and sat in on an ASL class. Even in that brief time, I could see the personal connection between the students and professor. I was able to speak with the professor afterward and saw how the fantastic support system and resources would help further my ASL skills,” she said. “With my degree from Maryville College, I plan to attend graduate school for Speech and Language Pathology with a focus on alternative communication.”

Outcomes of Recent Gradsclick or touch to open

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.”