Why study ASL at MC?

Maryville College has a rich history of teaching American Sign Language (ASL) and partnering with the local Deaf Community. Language and community bind Deaf culture, and the major in ASL & Deaf Studies provides the knowledge and experiences to explore that connection. Our program emphasizes development of fluency in ASL, exploration of the creative expression and structure of the language, and deep knowledge of and interaction with Deaf culture. The major prepares students for further study in Deaf education, linguistics, interpreting, or careers in which interaction with members of the Deaf Community is desired. If you are interested primarily in being an interpreter for the Deaf, Maryville College also has a major in ASL—English Interpreting

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Success in American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Studies requires being able to perceive signers’ faces, hand movements and body movements and being able to convey and receive ASL through these channels quickly at the natural pace of language. Also essential is the ability to perceive and process visual information and eye-hand coordination that allow effective communication. A good foundation in basic ASL is critical to advancing successfully in the Major in ASL and Deaf Studies.

The Major in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies is intended for those desiring to pursue studies in the areas of linguistics or anthropology at the graduate level or communication skills/cultural knowledge for use in counseling, social work, teaching, working in schools for the Deaf, or other service fields. Audio-visual materials are accessible for individual study of a broad cross-section of communication methods. Interactions with D/deaf and hard-of-hearing persons and regular practice using videotaping equipment are principal means for the development of skills. Successful graduates of the ASL studies major will be able to comfortably communicate in ASL receptively and expressively and to interact comfortably and appropriately in the Deaf community at entry level.


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Maryville College Works is a comprehensive career preparation program that is integrated into the College’s four-year liberal arts curriculum. Key components include assessment, advising, networking and professional experiences.

External Relationships

Knoxville Center of the Deaf
Knoxville Tennessee Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Tennessee Association of the Deaf (Knoxville)
Tennessee School for the Deaf

Meet a current student

Emma Pringnitz ’19
Hometown: Dassel, Minn.

Emma’s journey to Maryville College began with a summer job in her home state of Minnesota. Placed on the Summer Youth Conservation Corps’ Deaf Crew and working with three Deaf individuals, she met their interpreter, MC alumna Jenny Baker ’15. Jenny told Emma about the College’s program, and Emma decided that studying American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Studies was what she wanted to do. “I looked around at some other schools that offered ASL closer to my home, but none of them measured up to MC,” she said. “There is a great support system in this major. Deaf community members, local interpreters and upperclassmen in the program make it possible for students to feel like they can really achieve.”


Outcomes of Recent Grads

Job Placements

Alabama Department of Mental Health Central Office
Community Advocacy Network
East Tennessee Technology Access Center
Knoxville Center of the Deaf
Knox County Schools
Pellissippi State Technical Community College
Sign Language Specialists of Western PA, Inc.
Sorenson Communications

Graduate School Placements

Gallaudet University
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Xavier University



Ms. April Haggard

Associate Professor of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies
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Ms. Peggy Maher

Associate Professor of Sign Language & Interpreting
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Mr. Calvin Farley

Adjunct Instructor of American Sign Language
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Mr. William White

Adjunct Instructor of American Sign Language
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Ms. Anna Austin

Deaf Consultant

Mr. Tommy Bedwell

Deaf / Blind Consultant 

Mr. Calvin Farley

Deaf Consultant

Ms. Domina Farley

Deaf Consultant

Ms. Justine Hardin

Deaf Consultant 

Ms. Megan Potts

NIC, BA, Interpreter Mentor