American Sign Language (ASL)


American Sign Language (ASL) is used by deaf communities throughout the United States and parts of Canada.  It is a naturally formed, complex language that relies on manual and facial expressions.  ASL, like other signed languages from around the world, uses expressive properties to produce language in three dimensions. The unique nature of signed language and of its development within deaf communities gives remarkable potential for insight into how human beings are equipped to access, form, and develop languages naturally.

ASL Program Mission and Courses

The mission of the American Sign Language (ASL) Program is to provide ASL and deaf cultural learning opportunities to members of the Penn community and beyond. 

Students may take a host of courses in ASL.  The first four courses in the sequence (LING 071-074) satisfy world language requirement.  Students may take advanced ASL courses to work toward an ASL Certificate and/or the American Sign Language/Deaf Studies minor.  Course descriptions and requirements are listed below.  ASL Minor requirements are listed in the Department of Linguistics Undergraduate Minor in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies webpage.

Course Offerings

  • ASLD 0100 American Sign Language I: Introduction to ASL, Part I
  • ASLD 0200 American Sign Language II: Introduction to ASL, Part II
  • ASLD 0300 American Sign Language III: Intermediate ASL, Part I
  • ASLD 0400 American Sign Language IV: Intermediate ASL, Part II
  • ASLD 1030 American Sign Language V/Advanced ASL
  • ASLD 1031 Deaf Literature, Performance, Art, and Film
  • ASLD 1033 Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) in ASL/Deaf Studies
  • ASLD 1032 Deaf Culture
  • ASLD 1039 Penn Global Seminar: Disability Rights and Oppression: Experiences within Global Deaf Communities

Penn ASL Student Group

The ASL Program also works in collaboration with the SAC-approved, student-run group, Penn-In-Hand.  This group hosts many ASL activities including “silent” dinners/meetings, discussion groups, and other gatherings.  To find out more information, see their webpage:!forum/penninhandasl 


For more information, please contact Jami Fisher, ASL Program Director in the Department of Linguistics at



Penn ASL


Joshua Beckman Melissa Draganac-Hawk Jami N. Fisher Heather Schmerman Jennifer Strunk