Cornell’s Summer and Winter Sessions are great times for students to learn American Sign Language outside the busy fall and spring semesters.
Brenda Schertz, a senior lecturer in the Department of Linguistics at the College of Arts and Sciences, said interest in ASL has grown significantly over the last few years. To meet the demand, Cornell has increased opportunities for students to explore the language, including offering credit courses during summer and winter through Cornell’s School of Continuing Education (SCE) and approving a proposal for an ASL/Deaf Studies minor.
“Our first two ASL classes were offered in the fall of 2019 with 33 students and myself as the sole ASL faculty,” Schertz said. “By the fall of 2022, we had over 150 students enrolled in different levels of ASL. The demand for these classes has grown so rapidly that we have added two more faculty members: Nora Owen and Matilda Prestano.”
Beyond learning ASL to communicate with Deaf people, students who enroll in the online Summer and Winter Session courses also learn about Deaf culture and social justice issues in the Deaf community. Cornell sophomore Sofia Ippolito, who took ASL 1101 American Sign Language I last summer, said, “By learning about the history of Deaf culture in the United States, I was able to truly appreciate the impact this community has on the vibrance of our [world]. I’m now able to sign confidently about important topics in the Deaf community and move through spaces in an inclusive manner.”
“Having ASL skills can often be beneficial when learners encounter Deaf people or have deaf co-workers,” said Schertz. “And some students have expressed interest in becoming sign language interpreters.”
This summer’s ASL offerings are the four-credit online courses ASL 1101 American Sign Language I and ASL 1102 American Sign Language II. The courses are open to all—from undergrads to high school students, professionals, alumni, and any interested adult. Registration opens March 15.
To learn more about ASL courses offered during Summer and Winter Sessions, visit SCE.
Shelley Preston is the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions’ communications and marketing specialist.