ASL as a Foreign Language Fact Sheet

The fact sheet presents the most common objections to acceptance of ASL as a foreign language and answers these questions with facts from the linguistic, anthropological, and other research literatures. The conclusion is that ASL admirably meets all educational, intellectual, and curricular criteria for acceptance as a foreign language.

Colleges and Universities Accepting ASL in Fulfillment of Foreign Language Requirements

Several colleges and universities across the country accept ASL in fulfillment of undergraduate foreign language requirements. This document is a list of these schools. I must point out that I have not contacted these schools. The data for the list comes primarily from people -- students, faculty, or administrators -- at these schools who have written to me and reported that the schools accept ASL as a foreign language. If I find any data to be incorrect, I immediately correct the listing. If readers know of other schools accepting ASL in fulfillment of the undergraduate foreign language requirements which are not listed, please contact me.


An excellent source of information on ASL is online at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), in Washington, DC.

  1. American Sign Language as a foreign language. Sherman Wilcox & Joy Peyton, ERIC Digest (1999)

  2. In Gesture Toward Change, Schools Sign On to 'Signing'. Kristen Conover, The Christian Science Monitor (December 18, 1997).


If you are working with your school, college, or university to have ASL accepted in fulfillment of the foreign language requirement, or if you are just interested in the topic of ASL, American Deaf culture, or the teaching of ASL, the following books will be most valuable.

Books are available in association with By clicking on a link you will be able to find out more information about these books. You can also quickly and easily purchase the book online.

  1. Learning to See: Teaching American Sign Language as a Second Language. Sherman Wilcox & Phyllis Perrin Wilcox. Gallaudet University Press, 1997. From the back cover: "As more and more secondary schools and colleges accept American Sign Language (ASL) as a legitimate choice for second language study, Learning to See has become even more vital in guiding instructors on the best ways to teach ASL as a second language. And now this groundbreaking book has been udpated and revised to reflect the significant gains in recognition that Deaf people and their native language, ASL, have achieved in recent years. Learning to See lays solid groundwork for teaching and studying ASL by outline the structure of this unique visual language. Myths and misconceptions about ASL are laid to rest at the same time that fascinating, multifaceted elements of Deaf culture are described. ... The new Learning to See again takes its place at the forefront of texts on teaching ASL as a second language, and it will prove to be indispensable to educators and administrators in this special discipline."

  2. American Deaf Culture: An Anthology. S. Wilcox (Editor). Linstok Press, 1989. An anthology of articles on American Deaf culture and the Deaf community, American Deaf Culture presents the reader with the rich linguistic and cultural heritage of Deaf people.

  3. Academic Acceptance of American Sign Language. S. Wilcox (Editor). Linstok Press, 1992. This collection of articles by some of the country's leading scholars on ASL presents the case for acceptance of ASL as a legitimate language for study in secondary schools and colleges, and argues for the acceptance of ASL in fulfillment of foreign language requirements.

ASL as a Foreign Language