American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, A.A.
From learning to communicate basic grammar, vocabulary, and syntax, to mastering fingerspelling and sentence structure, the American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Studies transfer degree provides students with thorough preparation in competency and conversation-level fluency transferrable to four-year institutions for completion of the bachelor’s level ASL and Deaf Studies degrees. In this program, students also explore the evolution of the history and the development of Deaf culture in the United States.
The Deaf community in the Baltimore City and surrounding areas have a demonstrated need for professional services provided by individuals fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). The product of these needs result in ASL interpreter, social, or educational services. The most urgent of calls for institutions of higher education will be to develop curriculum for completion of credentials in ASL and to ensure that there is a collection of students developing these credentials for the service of the Deaf community. BCCC, as a predominantly Black institution, will continually recruit, enroll, and graduate degree candidates with a propensity to develop the requisite ASL skills and cultural competencies for serving the Baltimore Deaf community and beyond. In educating students in ASL and Deaf Studies, putting them on a path to becoming Sign Language Interpreters, BCCC’s program will expand opportunities for minority students and help to diversify this profession.
Upon completion of the American Sign Language and Deaf Studies program, a student will:
- Demonstrate competency in ASL both expressively and receptively at conversational level fluency.
- Demonstrate knowledge of Deaf history and culture.
- Use appropriate linguistic structures and cultural norms in communication.
- Demonstrate an introductory-level comprehension of ASL interpretation skills.
BCCC’s ASL and Deaf Studies program trains students for a variety of careers and job opportunities. Graduates can choose to pursue further education, training, and credentials to become ASL interpreters, or continue using ASL in fields such as social work, deaf education, audiology, speech pathology, business administration, hospitality, and education.
Career Options and Occupation Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an increased demand for ASL interpreters, as more organizations use video relay services. Interpreters and translator occupied nearly 69,400 jobs in 2021. At 32%, the largest employers of interpreters and translators were found among the professional, scientific, and technical service sectors. Educational services followed at 19% and hospitals were at 8%. These services ranged from conducting video conference calls using tools such as Zoom and Teams, to assisting in public service programs and facilities like schools, hospitals, and courtrooms; all of which benefit by using a sign language interpreter for effective communication. There is a growing demand in entertainment, as simultaneous ASL interpreting enables access for the Deaf community to concerts, shows, theater, television broadcasting, and more.
Locally, the governments of the City of Baltimore and Baltimore County meet the educational needs for over 1700 individuals in the Deaf community. In addition, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans have hearing loss in at least one ear, which translates to 1.2 million or 20.3% Deaf or hard of hearing Marylanders. This is a large population of individuals who may be assisted by those with education and training in ASL. However, in addition to communicating with deaf individuals, American Sign Language is also used to communicate with children with autism spectrum disorder and is therefore a valuable tool for K-12 educators; the second largest field for ASL employment. This program will thus serve many needs at the local and State level in advancing equity in education and in serving and supporting the Deaf community and their families. Courses within the program are anticipated to be in high demand by those working with children in need within the community.
In addition to being an invaluable tool for educators, the third largest field for potential employment of ASL graduates is healthcare. In particular, public health, hospitals and doctors’ offices, emergency services, senior centers can all benefit from knowledge of ASL. There is also a specific career: Rehabilitation or Vocational Counselors for Deaf and Hard of Hearing that is often supported through the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) program in Maryland.