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American Sign Language


American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most widely used language in America. ASL is a visual-gestural-kinesthetic language used by members of the deaf community in North America and in varying degrees in many other locations. ASL is not based on spoken English. It has its own grammar, idioms, historical contexts and cultural nuances. Through participation in these courses, students develop the necessary manual communication skills to establish connections and work or interact with people who are deaf. Upon completion of the three courses, participants will be able to:

  • Exchange basic information about themselves and their families
  • Give directions and make requests
  • Describe places, objects, and events
  • Talk about people and places in a contextually-reduced framework
  • Tell about past events

These courses are being offered in cooperation with the Sacramento State Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology.


The ASL courses enable participants to:

  • May fulfill foreign language graduation requirements (check with your institution)
  • Earn units of academic credit from California State University, Sacramento
  • Enhance their marketability as an employee
  • Network with members of the deaf community
  • Obtain a solid foundation for the pursuit of additional ASL training


These courses are geared toward:

  • Anyone interested in learning American Sign Language
  • High school, community college or university level students needing to fulfill a foreign language requirement
  • Individuals who work or interact with members of the deaf community

Career Preparation

While extensive additional training would be required to test for interpreter certification, these courses will help participants prepare for more advanced levels of ASL training. Sign language interpreting requires the ability to pay attention to and understand what is communicated in both spoken English and signed ASL, and to clearly express thoughts and ideas. Strong research and analytical skills, mental dexterity and an exceptional memory also are important. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of interpreters and translators is projected to increase by more than 36% between 2002 and 2012. Urban areas, especially those in California, provide the largest numbers of employment possibilities for interpreters. Similarly, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws mandate that, in certain situations, an interpreter must be available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Given the lack of qualified candidates meeting these requirements, interpreters for the deaf will continue to have favorable employment prospects.

Program Structure

Online Courses Offered Spring and Fall

The program consists of two courses for a total of 6 units of academic credit. EDS 51 and 52 are delivered online. The two courses can be completed within one year. Each course builds upon its prerequisite and participants will not be able to advance to the next level without taking the courses in the following order:

  • DEAF 51 – American Sign Language 1 (3 units)
    Online only
  • DEAF 52 – American Sign Language 2 (3 units)
    Online only

To register, please call (916) 278-6984.

For more information

Contact Liz Arellanes, program coordinator, at

Download a PDF of the American Sign Language Fact Sheet.

Course Offerings

Click a course title to see schedule or register





Core Courses
3 Academic Credits
3 Academic Credits
4 Academic Credits
Course Descriptions    Schedule of Courses