American Sign Language and Deaf Studies

Why study ASL and Deaf Studies?

ASL is the native language of Deaf people in America. ASL is a linguistically complete, natural language and it has its own grammatical rules and syntax just like other spoken languages. According to Modern Language Association, American Sign Language is the fourth most widely used language in the United States.

Deaf Studies is a study of humanity through a visual lens. Students will have an opportunity to broaden and enrich their knowledge of the most basic elements of our humanity - language, culture, and society. Students will explore their identity and relationship with individuals in other communities and assess the beliefs, values, and attitudes that affect their interactions. Students will understand the humanist and cultural perspectives that Deaf people are not disabled but a cultural and linguistic minority group.


What does the ASL/Deaf Studies Program at Holy Cross offer?

1. Co-curricular activities - Guest speakers, special events, workshops, Mass in ASL, films, and ASL-only dinners.

2. Community Based Learning (CBL)- Students will have an opportunity to apply their learning to practice by working with the Deaf community on different projects. CBL offers students an opportunity to network and build working relationships with Deaf professionals in a wide range of professions in the community. Types of activities include performing research for a nonprofit organization, organizing community events with Deaf leaders and offering educational activities to Deaf high school students.

3. Minor in ASL/Deaf Studies or develop a unique student designed multidisciplinary major or minor combining Deaf Studies with other disciplines within the College through the Center for Interdisciplinary and Special Studies (CISS).

4. Semester Away at Gallaudet University (the world's only university for Deaf students) in Washington, DC - Students have an opportunity to experience total immersion into the language and culture of Deaf people.

5. Academic opportunities - There are grants available for students who are interested in conducting research on Deaf topics. Students have an opportunity to present their findings to Deaf professionals and scholars at various conferences such as Deaf Studies Today which is held in Utah.

For more information, contact:

John Pirone - Director, ASL/Deaf Studies program
College of the Holy Cross
Stein 430
One College Street
Worcester, MA 01610-2395
Email Address:
Phone: 508-762-1171

Deaf Studies Major/Minor Application