Wichita State to offer a Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language

Wichita State starting bachelor’s in American Sign Language
Wichita State starting bachelor’s in American Sign Language(KLTV)
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 3:50 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita State University is set to offer a new degree program in American Sign Language (ASL) starting from the fall of 2023. The Bachelor of Arts in ASL aims to provide students with the opportunity to pursue a degree in this expressive language and cater to their individual interests and needs. With three specialized tracks to choose from - The Structure of Language, Language and Culture in Context, or Interpreting Methods - Shockers can tailor their education accordingly.

Andrew Hippisley, the dean of Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, emphasized the significance of this new degree in addressing the need for qualified interpreters. He emphasized that signed languages, such as ASL, are natural languages that possess the same sophistication, expressiveness, and beauty as spoken languages. Comparing ASL to Spanish, French, and German, Hippisley noted that ASL would be considered a sister language.

The demand for certified interpreters is growing in Kansas, and Wichita State University’s program will contribute to the development of a talented pool of professionals in the state. Aspiring candidates looking to take the national Certified Deaf Interpreter Examination now require a bachelor’s degree. Wichita State University is one of only two universities in Kansas that offers training for this certification.

The career prospects for graduates of the Bachelor of Arts in ASL program are diverse, with opportunities in social work, education, healthcare, criminal justice, human resources, counseling, and more. The program also aligns with Wichita State’s core value of fostering inclusivity and accessibility on campus. ASL courses are already attracting over 100 students who either minor in sign language or enroll to fulfill language requirements in the Fairmount College.

Moreover, students pursuing the interpreting track within the degree program will acquire practical and work-related skills that will prepare them for employment.

Wilson Baldridge, professor of French and chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, highlighted how this new degree aligns with Wichita State University’s applied mission. By equipping students with translation and interpreting skills applicable in the workplace, the program emphasizes practicality and real-world impact.

The introduction of the Bachelor of Arts in ASL program at Wichita State University not only addresses the growing demand for qualified interpreters but also reflects the institution’s commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible campus for all students. With its comprehensive curriculum and specialized tracks, the program is poised to meet the evolving needs of the ASL community and contribute to the talent pipeline in Kansas.

To find out more about the program check out the ASL Program at WSU.