New major opportunity broadens SLS program

By Erica Rakowicz

Madonna University’s Sign Language Studies (SLS) program added a third major for students to declare. The new opportunity was made possible after state certification this summer.

Aside from being one of the only programs of its kind in the nation, Madonna’s SLS program now accommodates even more students, specifically those interested in American Sign Language (ASL) for education.

The new ASL for Educators program prepares Madonna graduates to teach ASL in a K-12 setting.

“In order to preserve the quality of ASL use, it is important that instructors of ASL in our K-12 system be properly educated,” said SLS Chair and professor, Daniel McDougall.

Tailored for those students not necessarily interested in becoming interpreters, ASL for Educators reaches students who wish to work in the deaf community in a different atmosphere.

“The ASL Education Major for Teachers not only offers SLS students the avenue to explore career opportunities within the field of education, but it also offers students enrolled in teaching programs an additional teachable major to consider,” said Bridget R. Mitchell, Sign Language Studies.

Madonna’s SLS program was founded in 1975, with the intent to teach its students ASL and address issues throughout the deaf community.

A thorough 30-year history surrounds the curriculum and students use up-to-date technology as well as work in a new lab environment, both introduced last year.

Staff members are proud to offer a more specific program.

“I am glad that MUSLS provides an ASL Education endorsement for the K-12 teachers.  With the popularity of American Sign Language, ASL is finally being treated the same as other World Languages taught in K-12 settings and teachers are now expected to learn and teach ASL linguistically and culturally,” said Debbie Mitre-Smith, Sign Language Studies. 

Students can also earn a Bachelor of Arts in Interpreting Studies or Deaf Community Studies through SLS.

“We are excited to begin working with students who are also interested in the field of education.  The College of Education at Madonna is very highly regarded, and we have enjoyed our new working relationship with EDU.  We think that this is the beginning of new opportunities for Madonna University to have a positive impact on Michigan's Deaf community,” said McDougall.