Wichita State starting bachelor’s in American Sign Language

Wichita State students wanting to earn a degree in American Sign Language will be able to make progress toward that goal starting fall 2023, when WSU launches a Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language.

Shockers will be able to tailor the Bachelor of Arts in ASL to their interests and needs by choosing one of three tracks: The Structure of Language; Language and Culture in Context; or Interpreting Methods.

“The new degree responds to the need for qualified interpreters, and the need to bring an awareness of signed languages as natural languages, just as sophisticated, expressive and beautiful as spoken languages,” Andrew Hippisley, dean, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said. “ASL will be a sister language to Spanish, French and German.”

As demand for certified interpreters increases in Kansas, Wichita State’s program will help grow the talent pipeline for the state. Candidates wanting to take the national Certified Deaf Interpreter Examination are now required to have a bachelor’s degree. Wichita State is one of only two universities in Kansas where students can train for that certification.

Career paths include interpreting positions in social work, education, health care, criminal justice, human resources, counseling and more.

The major also meaningfully addresses Wichita State’s core value to make the campus inclusive and accessible for everyone. ASL courses attract more than 100 students who minor in sign language or take ASL to meet language requirements in the Fairmount College.

Additionally, students pursuing the interpreting track for the degree will gain applicable work-related skills.

“This conforms to Wichita State’s applied mission, or purpose, because students will use their translation and interpreting skills in the workplace,” Wilson Baldridge, professor of French and chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, said.

Learn more about the ASL program

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling almost 22,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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