Do you have an interest in learning American Sign Language? Beginning in fall 2018, East Tennessee State University students will have the chance to learn ASL with a new minor offered by the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Services.

“The ASL minor will provide students with a very strong foundation in American Sign Language,” said Marcy Lau, an assistant professor that helped write the minor’s requirements. “With the completion of the ASL minor, you will be able to have conversations with Deaf individuals who use ASL.”

The minor is expected to include 6 courses for a total of 18 credit hours for completion. The completion of the minor does not lead to interpreter certification, but students can find out more about how to become a certified interpreter through the Center for the Assessment of Sign Language Interpretation website.

“By the completion of the ASL minor, students will be comfortable engaging in ASL conversations with Deaf individuals,” said Lau. “However, to become a certified interpreter, you have to be fluent in the language and pass a national exam.”   

The ASL minor can lead students in more directions than just the interpretation field. The minor pairs well with any major.

According to Lau, no matter your future career, knowing how to communicate through ASL will allow you to connect with a specific culture group in any setting. In the future, ASL may even become a dual offering for both the foreign language department and the audiology and speech-language pathology department through a state proposal to have ASL qualify as a foreign language credit.

“The ASL minor is intended for anyone who wants to get in touch with deaf culture,” said Lau. “Maybe your major is nursing, or education, or business, or bluegrass, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are interested in learning more about a unique culture and their beautiful visual language.”

Students with an interest in the American Sign Language minor should contact College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Services advisors Megan Roberts at and Joanna Cyrier at or Dr. Marcy Lau at