American Sign Language 101

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American Sign Language 101

The Ohio State University

College of the Arts & Sciences
Quarter Year

Meeting days/times

For more course or program information, contact: Lauren Sanders, Associate Coordinator: or (614) 292-7082.

Instructor: Course Credits: 5

Office: Carmen webpage:

E-mail: OSU ASL webpage:


Office phone: Office hours:


Course Description

This is the first of four course series in American Sign Language. This course is the first in the American Sign Language series to fulfill the GEC skills category for foreign language credit.

Students will develop beginning level ASL communication skills -receptive (listening) and expressive (speaking)- with vocabulary and grammar. American Deaf culture and history will be introduced with an emphasis on making comparisons and connections to one’s own culture. Course instruction and activities are primarily in ASL. Courses in ASL may necessitate physical contact between students and/or instructor. This contact may include demonstrating culturally appropriate attention-getting behaviors, modeling deaf-blind communication, and/or remediating students’ sign production.

GEC Foreign Language Goals:
Students cultivate skills in communication across ethnic, cultural, ideological, and national boundaries, and acquire an understanding of other cultures and patterns of thought.

Expected Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students demonstrate basic communicative skills (e.g. speaking, listening, reading, and/or writing) in a language other than their native language.

  2. Students learn about the cultural contexts and manifestations of the peoples who speak the language that they are studying.

  3. Students recognize and understand differences and similarities between the cultures and communities of the language that they are studying and their own.


This course is the first in the American Sign Language series to fulfill the GEC skills category for foreign language credit.

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss Deaf history and the effects of social change on the Deaf World

  2. Gain knowledge of the role of ASL literature and Deaf art within the Deaf Community.

  3. Develop advanced level skills incorporating complex ASL grammatical features including classifiers, non manual signals, and special organization.

  4. Engage in conversations about topics including home and community, food, occupations, etc.


  1. Zinza, J. (2006). Master ASL! Level One. Burtonsville, MD: Sign Media, Inc.

*Note: This includes a hardcover textbook, softcover workbook, and DVD. You will be using these same texts in ASL 1-4, so do not resell them at the end of the quarter.
The text is available at the Thompson Library on closed reserve for your reference.

  1. Access to the OSU Carmen course website and OSU email. (*check daily)

  2. Selected readings will be available on Carmen and/or on closed reserve in the library, if applicable.

  3. Film(s) and video clip(s) shown during class.

  4. Access to use of digital video camera, DVDs, CDs, etc. for expressive tests.

  5. Attendance at one or more Deaf community event. (This may be off campus)

Purchasing Text: OSU Bookstores, SBX, Barnes and Noble, or you can order it through

Sign Media Incorporated (


  • Demonstration/modeling

  • Guided/directed activities

  • Conversational ASL

  • Lectures/movie

  • Assigned readings

  • Group Presentations

  • Written responses to texts and experiences

  • Video/web exercises for at home and in-class practice


Students will be exposed to issues affecting a range of deaf and hard of hearing individuals, including those from diverse and ethnic backgrounds.


Students will be expected to use internet resources to seek additional readings related to special topics. Students will be expected to download required readings and video clips from the Carmen website (for assigned homework). Students will be required to use a VCR/DVD Player to watch additional required homework passages from a videotape/DVD.


This class is worth a total of 1000 points. Your grade in this class will be based on the general breakdown of assignments below. Read further for more detailed explanations of each category. All grades will be posted on Carmen.


A 930-1,000 points C+ 770-799 points E 0-599 points

A- 900-929 points C 730-769 points
B+ 870-899 points C- 700-729 points

B 830-869 points D+ 670-699 points

B- 800-829 points D 600-669 points


Point value

Comprehension & Knowledge Tests
(3) 100 points each


Expressive Tests (2) 100 points each


Participation & Homework


Deaf Community Event & Reflection Essay


Film Reflection Essay


Cultural Writing reflections



1000 points

Optional Extra Credit: second Deaf Event Essay

10 points


This policy applies to ALL work to be handed in throughout the quarter. Late work will NOT be accepted. However, if you are absent for any reason and wish to earn credit, you may do one of the following prior to the start of class on the day it is due.

1) Submit an electronic version of your work to the Carmen Dropbox
2) email your assignment (as an attachment)
3) put a hard copy in my mailbox.

  • Comprehension & Knowledge Tests

The three comprehension skills tests are announced on the syllabus and will be given during scheduled class time. These will assess your understanding of signed communication, grammatical concepts, and cultural information. Tests are NOT made up – unless given PRIOR APPROVAL for a valid, university approved excused absence!!

  • Expressive Tests

Expressive tests are videotaped for grading and student review purposes. These will assess your communication skills using ASL with appropriate vocabulary and grammar productions. In the event of partner expressive tests, they will also assess your receptive skills and your use of culturally appropriate behaviors. There are two expressive tests.
The first test will be an independent narrative and will be filmed outside of class. You must turn in the test in a CD or DVD format ONLY. If you intend to borrow equipment from Classroom Services, request a permission slip from your instructor at least one week prior to the test date.

The second expressive test will take place during the last week of class - IN CLASS - with classmates as an audience. Details will be explained at a later date.

  • Participation and Homework

Active class participation is important to your skill development and to your success in this course. Your class participation grade is an average of two components:
A) your availability to participate (when you are not here, you are not participating), and
B) your degree of preparation and participation prior to and when you are in class.
The formula below will be used to determine your grade for this category.

A)__________ + B)__________ = (grade for attendance & participation)

Example: 85 + 90 = 175 points earned for overall Participation & Attendance Grade
  1. Availability for Participation

# of unexcused absences / # of days in this period =___ x 100 = _____ (points deducted)

100 - points deducted for absences = points earned for attendance

Example: 3 unexcused absences / 20 class meetings = 0.15 X 100 = 15 points

100 – 15 = 85 points earned for attendance/participation availability

An excused absence is defined by the university as:

1) Participation in a sanctioned University function. Students who participate in University sanctioned events must submit a copy of the events and their dates/times, signed by their coach/supervisor on OSU letterhead. This is due to the instructor by the second week of the quarter.

2) A death in the family or of a close friend. Students attending a funeral should bring some evidence of the event.

3) Observation of a religious holiday. Students observing a religious holiday must inform the instructor within the first two weeks of class of the upcoming holiday(s) and the dates/times to be missed.

4) Unexpected illness with doctor’s excuse. Students absent due to illness must have a doctor’s excuse written on the doctor’s letterhead or with his/her seal, and have the date(s) of illness, the doctor’s signature, and the physician’s phone number and address.

Other legitimate excused absences are: subpoenas, jury duty, military service, and serious verifiable family emergencies. These require documentation.

Notes about absences:

Excused absences: It is the student's responsibility to notify his/her instructor of any excused absence as far in advance as possible. Although an excused absence will not count against your attendance and participation grade, you are expected to turn in assignments on time and it is your responsibility to contact your instructor to request a make-up for a test that you missed due to your absence. Make-up work will be permitted only when the instructor is presented with acceptable documentation prior to or immediately following the absence.

Unexcused absences: Unexcused absences will result in points lost for attendance and participation which cannot be made-up or earned in a different way. Missed tests for unexcused absences cannot be made up; the grade will be a zero.

The student’s responsibility: If an absence is inevitable, it is the student’s responsibility to find out what happened in class and what assignments might be due the following class. Assignments course notes, and announcements are available on Carmen and should be checked before contacting your instructor. Your instructor will be available during scheduled office hours or by appointment for support, but it is not their responsibility to re-teach all of the material. Therefore, it is also recommended that you connect with classmates who may be able to help you. However, YOU-and only you-are responsible for your own education.

B) Preparation and degree of Participation

Due to the nature of this course, homework is considered preparation for class.


Preparation and Degree of Participation

0 – 59

Not prepared for class discussions (in-class/online) and does not participate


Rarely prepared; rarely able to engage in class discussions (in-class/online); rarely initiates discussions; uses ASL limitedly


usually prepared, but preparation is inconsistent; answers when called on; participates when required; volunteers limitedly; stays on task; uses ASL when required


regularly prepared; answers when called on; willingly participates; stays on task; makes a conscious effort to engage in all discussions and activities; volunteers answers questions and to demonstrate; makes a conscious effort to use ASL as much as possible


high level of preparation; answers when called on; willingly participates in all activities; stays on task; volunteers to answer questions and to demonstrate; Asks questions or volunteers information that is relevant to class; uses ASL almost exclusively


Homework will be assigned regularly during the quarter. These assignments are intended to help you develop your production and receptive communication skills with ASL. Most homework assignments require composing questions and narratives to sign with partners during the subsequent class period. These assignments are required to be written (in English and/or ASL gloss) to demonstrate advanced preparation. You are also required to demonstrate advanced practice of the signing portion of the homework assignment. Both written and signed homework will be evaluated to earn full credit. Homework is included as part of your Participation/Preparation grade. Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day indicated. Reading and research homework is required to be fulfilled prior to the start of class on the due date and will also be evaluated during in class discussions and activities.

  • Deaf Community Event & Reflection Essay:
    Throughout the quarter, there will be numerous opportunities to participate in events hosted by the American Deaf community within Columbus. These experiences allow for observations of ASL and American Deaf cultural behaviors being used by native and fluent signers in authentic ways. It is intended that you will also be able to interact with members of the ASL and American Deaf community to enhance your signed communication skills. The overall experience will provide you with the opportunity to recognize and understand differences and similarities between the cultures and communities of the language that you are studying and your own.

You are required to attend one event and turn in a reflection essay before the end of the quarter. This essay must be submitted to the Carmen Dropbox. Event requirements and paper guidelines are available on Carmen.

  • If transportation to one of these events poses a problem for you, PLEASE speak with me by the end of the 2nd week of the quarter to discuss possible solutions. If you wait until the end of the quarter to bring this to my attention, you will not be given an alternate assignment.

  • *NOTE* If you absolutely cannot attend a Deaf community event, you are required to complete a 5-6 page research paper about a Deaf cultural topic and present this to the class. This topic must be pre-approved by your instructor at least three weeks prior to the end of the quarter.

  • New events will be posted on Carmen and announced in class – check daily. PLAN AHEAD – do not wait for the last minute! If you happen to hear of any events please let me know and we will pass them along to your classmates.

  • Film Reflection Essay

During the quarter we will watch a film, “For a Deaf Son”. Based on the film,
research, and class discussion you will complete a written assignment demonstrating
critical thinking and reflection about the American Deaf Culture. Specific topics such as

language acquisition and family dynamics for deaf children will be addressed, and reflections on your own experiences are to be included. Details will be posted on Carmen as well as discussed in class. The film is also available at the Thompson Library on closed

reserve for your reference. You must bring your own headphones.

  • Cultural Writing Reflections
    As you are introduced to the American Deaf culture through readings and discussions, you will be asked to write short essays. These are to demonstrate your understanding of the American Deaf culture and patterns of thought and behaviors typical of its members. You will also be asked to reflect upon your own culture and/or that of the dominant hearing, American society to recognize differences and similarities. Details for these assignments will be posted on Carmen and announced in class. All writing assignments are to be posted either to Carmen Discussion forums or the Carmen Dropbox.

Extra Credit

You may attend a second approved Deaf community event and complete a second reflective essay to earn up to 10 points of extra credit., that will be graded based on essay requirements.

Approved Deaf Events for Fall 2009*

*Only events listed on this syllabus are approved for the assignment. Any other events must be pre-approved by your instructor.

  1. The Ohio School for the Deaf boys and girls fall sports. For the schedule and info, see:

  2. Silent Weekend: October 14-16. Go to for more details. Sponsored by Columbus State Community College

  3. ASL Cabaret hosted by Buckeye Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf and Hallenross & Associates, October 17th. 2009. See flyer for details…

  4. Silent Bowling: November 4. See flyer for details on

  1. OSU ASL Lecture Series: November 5th 6:00-7:00 In Hagerty Hall 180, For details:

  2. Ohio Association of Deaf (OAD)’s Ohio DEAFair 2009- Nov. 7th 10:00-7:00PM. For details, see


In order for you, the student, to benefit from feedback provided by the Instructor to improve your grade and skill development, the Instructor will return graded student work within one week after the due date. This student work includes, but is not limited to, written work (hard copy or on Carmen), comprehension tests, and expressive tests. It needs to be understood that the expressive tests (videos) may take more time to grade, but these grades and feedback will be returned no later than two weeks after the due date.

Recommended ONLINE RESOURCES for Self-Study, research, and general interest:

  1. Fingerspelling Practice :

  2. MSU’s ASL Dictionary :

  3. ASLPRO (dictionaries+)

  4. National Association of the Deaf:

  5. Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf:

  6. American Sign Language Teachers Association:

  7. Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, Gallaudet University:

  8. Deaf Performing Artists Network:

  9. ASL Shakespeare Project:

  10. National Theater of the Deaf:

  11. Best of Deaf blogs and vlogs:

Writing Center

Students are expected to demonstrate college level writing skills for each assignment.

Trained consultants are available for support at the Writing Center. Please call 614-688-4291 or visit make an appointment or have an online tutorial.


  1. Be in class, be on time, and be engaged. Attendance, punctuality, and participation are essential to your learning. You can’t participate if you’re not in class. You can’t fully learn the language if you’re not participating. So come to class (on time! and stay the whole time!), get involved, and have fun!

  1. Sit in a new seat. Seeing the language used by your instructor and classmates from many different angles is important and helpful.

  2. Stay updated. Check the Carmen course page and your OSU email every day for updates to the syllabus, assignments, grades, community events, and general class info. Emails sent through the Carmen page will go to your standard OSU email address.

  3. Learn together, study together, succeed together. Find a study buddy or create a study group to meet regularly to review and practice using ASL. Even ten minutes before or after class is valuable. Go to Deaf community events together and socialize with native signers and other students and fluent signers. However, your completed assignments must be your own work.

  4. Maintain a positive attitude. Negative thoughts can put you into “shut down” and are self-defeating. Develop ways to monitor relaxation and positive self-talk. Practice these techniques, and use them in class and during test situations.

  1. Respect yourself, respect your instructor, and respect your peers.

Be encouraging and kind. No negativity, criticism, or mocking will be tolerated in my classroom. Using ASL can be challenging and scary, but if we maintain a comfortable, supportive atmosphere, our learning will be fun and successful.

  1. Respect yourself, respect the Deaf and signing community, and respect OSU.

Remember when you are signing in public you are representing yourself as a student, and you are representing your class, instructor, and university. You are essentially a guest in the Deaf and signing community, so be courteous and respectful.

  1. Communicate your concerns. I want you to be SUCCESSFUL, so anytime you have concerns or problems, please let me know ASAP.

  2. Be distraction free. It is important that we create a learning environment free of distractions. Please turn off ALL cell phones, Ipods, MP3s, etc. during class. If you are expecting an important phone call, put it on vibrate and then step outside when the call comes in. No eating during class. And, of course, NO whispering or talking!

  3. Take good care of your health. Eat, sleep and exercise!! With this in mind, you will be ready to learn.


This schedule is subject to change. Check Carmen and your OSU email daily.

Week 1 Sept 23 Introduction to ASL

Course overview/expectations

Week 2 Sept 28 Begin Unit One

DUE: Read Textbook pages xi, xv-xxiv

Read Workbook pages vii, 1, 63 &129

Print & Sign Code of Conduct (on Carmen)

Check Carmen for Homework #1

Sept 30 Unit One continued

In-class discussion: Perspectives on Deafness, Language Acquisition

Due: Homework #2

Week 3 Oct 5 Unit One continued

Due: Homework #3
Oct 7 Unit One continued/ Review

DUE: Discussion response about “How do people learn language?”

Week 4 Oct 12 Comprehension TEST #1

Oct 14 Unit Two

Due: Homework #4

Week 5 Oct 19 Unit Two continued

Due: Homework #5
Oct 21 Unit Two continued

Assign In class Expressive Test #1

Week 6 Oct 26 Unit Two Continued

Film/Discussion- “For a Deaf Son”

Due: Homework #6

Oct 28 IN-CLASS Expressive Test 1

Week 7 Nov 2 Unit Two review

Comprehension TEST #2

Nov 4 Begin Unit Three

DUE: Post discussion response about “The Promise of Culture”

Week 8 Nov 9 Unit Three continued

DUE: Homework #7

Nov 11 OSU Closed

Week 9 Nov 16 Unit Three continued

DUE: Homework #8

Nov 18 Unit Three continued

Due: Homework #9

Week 10 Nov 23 Unit Three continued

Due : Homework #10 Assign In class Expressive Test #2

Nov 25 Unit Three continued

DUE: Deaf Event Essay and Extra Credit

Nov 30 In-class Expressive Test #2

Dec 2 Review Day

Finals Week Dec 10th 3:30 to 5:18 - Comprehension TEST #3


In the unlikely event of class cancellation due to emergency, I will contact you via email and post an announcement on the home page of our Carmen course site, under “News”. When possible, I will also request that a note be placed on the classroom door. I will contact you as soon as possible following the cancellation to let you know how the syllabus and work deadlines will be affected.


Academic integrity is essential to maintaining an environment that fosters excellence in teaching, research, and other educational and scholarly activities. Thus, The Ohio State University and the Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM) expect that all students have read and understand the University’s Code of Student Conduct, and that all students will complete all academic and scholarly assignments with fairness and honesty. Students must recognize that failure to follow the rules and guidelines established in the University’s Code of Student Conduct and this syllabus may constitute “Academic Misconduct.”

The Ohio State University’s Code of Student Conduct (Section 3335-23-04) defines academic misconduct as: “Any activity that tends to compromise the academic integrity of the University, or subvert the educational process.” Such instances include, but are not limited to: plagiarism (representing as one's own work anything done by another), cheating on assignments or examinations, collusion (unauthorized collaboration), falsification of excuses, submitting work from a previous quarter without explicit permission of the current instructor, receiving or passing exam information to other students before, during or after the exam (cheating in this case applies both to the receiver of the exam information and the person who gives the information), and violation of course rules contained in the syllabus or provided in class. Ignorance of the University’s Code of Student Conduct is never considered an “excuse” for academic misconduct, so I recommend that you review the Code of Student Conduct and, specifically, the sections dealing with academic misconduct. This document is available at:
If I suspect that a student has committed academic misconduct in this course, I am obligated by University Rules to report my suspicions to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. If COAM determines that you have violated the University’s Code of Student Conduct (i.e., committed academic misconduct), the sanctions for the misconduct could include a failing grade in this course and suspension or dismissal from the University.
Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability must contact me (your instructor) privately to discuss your specific needs. To ensure your success in this class, it is important that you discuss this with me at the beginning of the quarter or immediately upon realizing your concern for accommodations. Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office for Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated. Please contact the Office for Disability Services at 614-292-3307 in room 150 Pomerene Hall ( to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

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