The mission of the ASL Program is to educate students to be linguistically and culturally competent, enabling future positive interactions with the Deaf community. Most students enter ASL I with no knowledge of ASL or Deaf culture; often their instructor is the first Deaf person they have met. Our language and culture courses endeavor to eliminate preconceived notions our students have about American Sign Language and the people who use it. While most of our students currently do not enter fields in which they make regular use of their ASL skills, we feel confident that we are sending more people into the world who will treat ASL and Deaf culture with respect. Beyond our language courses, we also offer advanced coursework taught in ASL for students who want to pursue skills and knowledge beyond the 4 semesters of language study. We strive to expose the larger community to ASL and Deaf culture though outreach efforts, including a variety of programming options during Deaf Awareness Week that are open to the public.

The ASL faculty is committed to growing this program. We are currently the largest ASL program in the state of Iowa offering only a Minor in ASL. To become a certified interpreter through examination by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) or National Interpreter Certification (NIC), one much have completed a Bachelor’s degree. Yet, there are no universities offering a BA in ASL/English interpretation in the state of Iowa. We seek to address the critical need for qualified interpreters in the state of Iowa by working to develop the infrastructure that will support the eventual creation of an American Sign Language/English Interpreter Education program.