Areas of Study

Courses & Requirements

Summary of Requirements

Core Curriculum 43
Pre-Major Courses 15
Major and Related Courses 48-51
Free Elective Courses 11-14

Required pre-major courses 9 hours

This is an introductory survey to the field of Deaf Studies that highlights cutting edge concepts and theories at use in this field. The course will show how deaf people and sign languages are integral aspects of human diversity and how societies have responded to this diversity across different social, temporal, and cultural moments and movements.

An introduction to the major features of languages and to the structure, use, and variation in the sign languages and sign systems commonly used in the United States. The course will cover four major topics: (1) Language: The nature and definition of languages, the uniqueness of language, and contrasts between language and other forms of communication; (2) Language and Culture: The role of language in human society, with special focus on language acquisition, language identity, and bilingualism; (3) American Sign Language Structure: A survey of the major features of the linguistic structure of ASL. Topics are: Phonology: the structure of the physical signals; Morphology: the basic structure and composition of meaningful units of ASL; Syntax: word order and nonmanual syntactic signals in ASL sentences; (4) Language Variation: Language variation and language contact in the deaf community, including discussions of contact varieties of signing and systems for representing English.

Sociology attempts to understand how societies function. The course explores how social forces influence our lives and our chances for success. It also examines social groups, the relationships among social groups, and the ways groups get and maintain power.

Required Deaf Studies major courses 36 hours

This course investigates how culture shapes the way people see the world. Students will explore cultural readings and examine various texts around us to understand how culture, identity and history frame experiences. Traditional courses in cultural studies assume that the meanings in this world are central in creating us -- individually and collectively. Students will examine how culture transmits a view of the world and power through critical analysis.

This course will begin with developing an understanding of the concept of 'culture' and then will focus on the complexities and varieties of Deaf cultural experiences. Students will be asked to engage course materials through multi-disciplinary approaches in order to gain a critical appreciation of Deaf lives within historical, political and global contexts.

This course examines various forms of oppression by looking across different cultures and communities, then examines possible parallels occurring within the deaf community.

The dynamics of oral cultures and their traditions will be introduced in this course by studying the development of oral literature and literary artists in other cultures. Then using this as background, attempts will be made to study ASL literary tradition by looking at life histories, narratives, and poetry performances.

This course will introduce students to the field of Disability Studies. As an emerging interdisciplinary field of study, Disability Studies does not approach disability as a ''medical condition, but as a human condition'' (Charlton). Instead of studying the causes and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, we will explore the historical, social, political, religious, philosophical, and cultural influences that ''construct'' the category of ''disability.'' We will also examine how persons with disabilities construct their own meanings and identities.

In this senior-level internship course, Deaf Studies majors will volunteer for a Deaf organization. Students will be supervised by a Field Supervisor at the organization and reviewed by a faculty member. The internship will serve as a field experience for students, allowing for the application of what has been learned in the academic setting. Students will develop skills working with individuals, groups, agencies, and communities. In addition, students must submit a journal logging their activities to the Internship coordinator. Internships can be either in the United States or abroad.

This course primarily examines black deaf people in America including the Caribbean Islands and Africa. The course is organized to focus on the history, education, community and culture, language, and psychosocial forces that influence black deaf people's experience. It will concentrate on the social, political, and cultural development of a unique group of people that is a part of the general deaf community and the black community.

This course will explore how the field of women's studies came into being by way of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. Issues faced by both hearing and deaf women will be investigated: career, educational opportunities, reproduction, and patriarchy, among others.

This course will introduce students to several research methodologies, particularly ethnographic and historical, that are commonly used by Deaf Studies scholars. Students will begin their Senior Thesis projects in this course by producing a proposal and an annotated bibliography and completing an IRB Application if applicable. These projects will be continued to DST498 in the following semester.

This course is an extension of DST 497 (Senior Thesis I) where the majors have begun preliminary research steps towards their Senior Thesis. The preliminary steps include a Proposal, an Annotated Bibliography and an IRB application where applicable. In this course, the students will begin data collection and analysis to create a final research product.

An examination of the people and the historical processes that brought together deaf individuals to form a cohesive community in the United States.

This course provides an introductory overview of the major linguistic structures of American Sign Language. Major topics are: phonology, morphology, syntax, language use, and linguistic applications. Some comparisons with English and other spoken and signed languages will be examined.

Required related courses 9 hours

Choose three courses:

This course covers areas of vocabulary, semantics, grammar and organization of ASL and English. Students look at the linguistic aspects of both languages and compare the two. The class also covers word classes and sentence structure of both languages. To assist students in understanding the structure of both languages, discussion of how languages work is included.

Visual media has changed the way we work with American Sign Language. With the advent of new tools and platforms, possibilities of publishing have proliferated, allowing a wider discourse of ideas to be shared with a vast audience of people who work with ASL and ASL learners. This course explores these opportunities through a hands-on approach and introduces students to the tools and skills necessary to produce digital video, websites, interactive presentations and social media and integrate those with the field of ASL.

This course provides an overview of various genres in American Sign Language Narratives ranging from visual vernacular to fictional narratives. Students will analyze contents, themes and stylistic techniques of works done by various ASL literary artists. This course emphasizes practices in planning, developing, performing and critiquing various narrative genres.

This course covers elocution, in other words, registers of ASL discourse -- frozen, formal, consultative, casual and intimate. Students will be able to discuss using ASL in the most common registers (formals, consultative and casual) in classrooms or at social events. They will also learn how to refine their skills in giving presentations using formal ASL.

This course demonstrates the use of space and eye gaze. It also demonstrates the use of role shifting to indicate speaker or locus of the subject/object in the ASL text. Organization of an ASL text and the function of these features will be covered. How they overlap with other features of the language will also be covered. Turn-taking regulators will be discussed within the conversation style of a discourse text.

This course is an examination of communication and gender, including sex role stereotypes. The course provides a survey of how communication of and about gender interacts with various contexts, including biology, culture, family, mass media, education, religion, and the workplace.

An examination of the role played by communication in the bridging and separating of cultures. How norms, values, and expectations concerning the communication act itself differ from culture to culture, and how these differences affect intercultural encounters.

An examination of the persuasive strategies used by mainstream politicians, social activists, and propagandists. Special emphasis is on the rituals and implicit rules of conducting public information campaigns and electoral campaigns, and the relationship among politicians, the voting public, and the mass media that link them.

This course introduces students to the history, culture and traditions of Gallaudet University to cultivate a sense of belonging and an appreciation. Students will learn how the university came to being, how the university is structured and how alumni made contributions, nationally and internationally. Volunteering at the annual Homecoming event affords an opportunity to learn from alumni.

This course introduces a humanistic perspective on De'VIA and Deaf artists. Deaf View/Image Art ( De'VIA ) refers to works by artists who express their Deaf experiences through visual art. Students will also explore how other minority groups ( such as feminists, African Americans, Native Americans, etc). Use art as an expression of resistance. this course involves slide presentations of minority arts and De'VIA and group discussions.

This course will focus on cultural issues, values, behaviors, identities and language of Deaf people from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. Students will examine autobiographies, documentaries, films, videos, and academic literature to help understand the contributions and historical development of the emerging majority of the Deaf community that is underrepresented in the United States and the world. Course may be repeated as topics change.

Special topics in the discipline, designed primarily for seniors who are majors or minors. Students may enroll in 495 Special Topics multiple times, as long as the topics differ.

Grading system: letter grades only.

An overview and study of contemporary trends, problems, and issues in general education in terms of educational philosophies, types of educational programs, the relation of education to the individual and society, and curriculum and instruction. Some consideration of the relevance of regular education to special education and education of deaf and hard of hearing students. Discussion of organizations and agencies related to education.

Study of important and representative works of literature written by D/deaf authors. When offered for 4 credits, this course will be dual listed with GSR 210, 220, 230, or 240 and will address the Student Learning Outcomes of these courses.

An intensive examination of relationships among policy goals, policy strategies, and policy outcomes that lead to the allocation of societal resources (who gets what, when, where, and how). This course will identify the relationship between policy outcomes and the political institutions, political parties, interest groups, lobbyists, and the political environment.

The diverse beliefs of nations and classes, world divisions, and the racial rivalry reflected in various systems of law and politics all give changing meaning to such phrases as human rights and fundamental freedoms. This course will look at these rights and freedoms within the different belief systems, world divisions, and racial rivalries. Special attention will be given to the deaf communities in United States and their struggle to achieve full human rights and freedom.

An introduction to the principles of historical research, with an emphasis on the use of research tools and source materials. Several supervised written assignments will be required; most will be based on American source materials.

A survey of the way in which the physical environment influenced the development of cultures in the major regions of the world. Special stress will be given to the varieties of land use, current environmental threats, and cultural adaptations to modern world problems.

A survey of the mass media (print, film, and television) as sources and interpreters of deafness and deaf people within the context of U.S. social and cultural history. The class will also examine historical changes in the products of mass media within the deaf community.

This course will cover the history of disability in the United States from the early nineteenth century to the present, focusing on two important eras. The period of industrialization, from the late nineteenth century through the 1920s, will receive the most attention, as the status of people with disabilities changed most dramatically and having a disability led to stigmatization. This course will examine closely the disability civil rights era from the 1960s to the 1990s when disability rights advocates gained more visibility and federal laws and programs began to focus on disability civil rights issues. The course content will focus on three themes: Perceptions of disability and how those perceptions of disability change over time, as well as the socioeconomic status of people with disabilities; the role that people with disabilities have played in American history and the actions they have taken to affect their position in society; and Federal policies and laws related to disability issues, and how they have changed over time.

This course offers a close study of the birth and early evolution of America's Deaf community, with particular attention to historical context. Incorporating recent scholarship in the field, this course will examine central topics, including education, organizations, regional identities, class, and eugenics. This class also will closely study several subcultures in addition to general American Deaf history, including African American, European American, and Native American experiences. Economic, social, religious, and cultural factors also will be addressed.

An examination of the role of women in American history from colonial times to the present. Emphasis will be placed on the role of race, gender, class, disability, and deafness in the historical experiences of American women.

This course will explore the history of sexuality in Europe and America in the modern era. Topics may include: essentialist and constructionist views of sexuality and sexual identity, changing social norms of sexuality, changing patterns of courtship and marriage, the development of homosexuality and heterosexuality, prostitution, transvestism, hermaphrodism, pornography, the sexual revolutions of the 20th century.

This course will cover some important aspects of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History. The geographical focus will be principally the United States with some attention to Europe and other parts of the world. Major topics in this course will include the history and evolution of sexual identities, same-sex relations and communities, the political movement for GLBT rights, HIV-AIDS, and post-gay Queer identities. The ancient world will be used as a starting point, touching on the early-modern development of a gay identity; then turning to the development of 20th and 21st century GLBT identity, community, and movements. The course will consist principally of discussion of readings and videos and films.

By studying Deaf women's history, students will enhance their understanding of this minority group, as well as the broader fields of Deaf history and women's history. Students will be introduced to recent scholarship that directly examines this topic. In order t place such works in a broader context, students also will be exposed to vital works in related historical fields. This class will include close study of multiple minority groups, including Deaf Americans, European Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans. The important role of economic, social, religious, and cultural factors be considered throughout this course. This class emphasizes various historical methods of study, building analytical skills and critical thinking. Exploring the changing meaning of gender and deafness in history will provide students with tools for independent research. Ultimately, this focused study of identity challenges students to reconsider traditional notions of gender, disability, cultural Deaf identity, beauty, normalcy, citizenship, and status.

Bioethics is a branch of applied ethics, which in turn is a part of the philosophical field of ethics. Bioethics applies ethical theory to issues in the biological sciences, including scientific research and healthcare. This course introduces major theoretical approaches to bioethics and applies them to topics of interest to the deaf community, including (but not limited to) eugenics, cochlear implant surgery, and genetic technology. Bioethics theories and concepts covered will include informed consent, research ethics, individual and group rights, surrogate decision-making, quality of life, genetic enhancement versus gene therapy, and wrongful life. The potential impact of new and emerging technologies on the deaf community will also be discussed.

The course will consider the psychological development and psychosocial issues of Deaf people. Topics covered will include cognitive, linguistic, and personality development, mental health, and interpersonal behavior.

This course covers the scientific study of language and how humans process and use language. This course explores the research on acquisition of language by children, the relationship between language and thought, and the biological basis of language. An introduction to the linguistics of signed and spoken languages is covered in this course in order to distinguish the role of speech, language, and human communication. Some of the topics covered in this course include language acquisition, perception, production, comprehension, and the cognitive impact of language use.

A study of racial and ethnic relations in the United States. The course focuses on the characteristics of various American racial and ethnic groups, some of the causes of racial/ethnic group oppression, and racial/ethnic group responses to oppression.

A survey of selected sociological topics related to deafness and deaf people. Socialization, education, inequality, diversity, and disability-related issues are among the topics discussed in this course.

This introductory course explains sociological perspectives on gender. Focusing on American experiences with gender, the course covers gender socialization, gender roles, and gender inequality. This course also addresses ''nature vs. nurture'' debates, which seek to understand to what extend gender roles are formed by biology or society.

A study of the problems of human origin, the nature of race, the social structure of preliterate societies, and the development of social institutions.

This course examines how work is related to societal and technological changes. Topics include long-term trends in the nature of work and the differences in work among major segments of the labor force, including differences by race, gender and disability. The course also examines how globalization is affecting work and workers in the United States as well as in selected other countries.

The course considers social structure, cultural, and demographic components of physical and mental illness. Stages of illness behavior, from prevalence of symptoms and recognition of them to recovery or death, will be identified, and the social and cultural determinants of each stage will be discussed. The health care system and problems in health care delivery will be considered.

A study of gender and social class inequality. The course emphasizes theoretical and conceptual issues related to inequality, characteristics of various social stratification systems, and minority group responses to social inequality.

This course provides students an opportunity for examination of personal attitudes, stereotypes, biases, and misconceptions that affect ethnic-competent professional practice. Attention is given to increasing students' knowledge, understanding, appreciation, and sensitivity to diversity, oppression, and racism, and the implications of each for social work and other human services. While the course addresses the cognitive and conceptual aspects of learning, primary emphasis is on the affective process. In addition to learning about racism, discrimination, power/powerlessness, and ethnocentrism, students participate in experiential groups and role play. These exercises provide opportunities to explore new ways of thinking, feeling, and responding to people who experience discrimination or oppression because of their race, ethnic background, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation, or because they are deaf or hard of hearing.

Program Outcomes

Demonstrate knowledge of the multiplicity of deaf people's lives within the United States and internationally.


Engage in critical inquiry into changing ideological construction of deaf people, sign language, and normalcy from cultural, geographical, sociological and human rights perspectives.


Develop research skills to produce and to present effective written and signed research projects using various media in academic discourse related to the interdisciplinary field of Deaf Studies, incorporating principles of academic integrity.


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B.A. in Deaf Studies

Dr. H-Dirksen Bauman

Gene Mirus


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