Dallas International University is pleased to announce a new Certificate in Sign Language Linguistics (CSLL). It is designed to serve as a foundation for people intending to work in a variety of roles with sign language communities, especially in other countries. CSLL graduates will be well prepared to study a community’s sign language and to provide the community with life-changing resources and support through linguistic analysis, translation, Deaf education, ethnoarts, and advocacy.

Linguists estimate that there are at least 300 distinct sign languages around the world, with an average of 150,000 users each. Each sign language is unique and distinct from the spoken language in the country, with its own grammar and vocabulary. For example:

  • British Sign language (BSL), the sign language used in the United Kingdom, is unrelated to the American Sign Language (ASL) used in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Among Spanish-speaking countries, each country has its own sign language, and several have more than one.
  • Besides the national sign languages that are taught in schools, in many small communities where Deafness is common, Deaf and Hearing people share a sign language of their own invention.

The Certificate in Sign Language Linguistics prepares students to work with one or more of these languages through a straightforward but thorough program plan. 

  • Students can complete all seven courses in as little as eighteen months. The certificate can easily be combined with an undergraduate or graduate degree at DIU.
  • The certificate consists of seven courses, which cover language acquisition, sociolinguistics, phonetics, phonology, grammar, and specialized computer technology for sign language work.
  • To provide equal access to Deaf and Hearing students, the four advanced courses, which specialize on sign languages, are taught in internationalized ASL and written English. ASL interpretation is available as needed for the three general courses.
  • Most courses are available online. Some also include a two-week on-campus component.

Program Coordinator Dr. Albert Bickford says of the heart behind the certificate,

“We developed this program for people who have interest in working with sign languages but don’t want to necessarily follow the traditional career paths of sign language interpreters or Deaf educators. Around the world, Deaf communities are looking for professionally trained allies who can assist them in a variety of language development goals. We wanted a broad-based program from which people can branch out in many different directions, based on the needs of the local community. We also wanted a way that people can show they have expertise in sign languages in addition to whatever other degrees they may have.”

Learn more about our Certificate in Applied Linguistics here, or apply to get started. Write with questions to signlanguages@diu.edu.