Program Goals Statement

Deaf Studies explores the language, culture, history and contemporary issues of Deaf people. Fundamental to our program are both competency in American Sign Language and a desire to work with the Deaf community as allies (or advocate members). As such, all Deaf Studies concentrations share the same ASL and Deaf Studies core courses. This program also includes specialized courses needed for transfer into a BS/BA program in the educational area of choice. Students in this concentration are considering a future working with deaf or hard-of-hearing children in early intervention or an educational setting.

Program Information

• Bristol offers several Deaf Studies concentrations to meet your career and academic goals.The concentration options are: Transfer, Interpreter Transfer, Education, and Human Services. Students unsure of which option to choose should choose Deaf Studies: Transfer.

• Deaf Studies provides a foundation for interpreters, but, is not an interpreter training/education program (ITP/IEP). Students wanting to become professional interpreters in an educational setting should enroll in our Interpreter Transfer concentration which will prepare students to transfer on to four year institution. 

• Students who have taken non-credit “sign language classes” in the past, or, are heritage signers (Deaf/signing family) should meet with the program director to discuss Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) opportunities. 

• Students who have taken 2 or more ASL classes in high school, with a B or better, should meet with the program director for placement. 

• Although individual courses may be offered on different campuses in both day/evening formats, Deaf Studies courses are primarily offered on the Fall River campus as day enrollments. Some Deaf Studies courses may be offered completely on-line. 

• Students may opt to take more ECE courses than required while at Bristol.

• Students seeking certification from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care should also complete an ECE certificate, or, see for Level I certification Infant-Toddler or Pre-School Teacher requirements. 

• EDU 220 requires a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information), 27 completed credits and an overall GPA of 2.5 or better.

• Students wishing to complete their ASL 285 Community Based Learning in Deaf Studies experience in a program for the Deaf or early intervention setting will have to complete a C.O.R.I. (Criminal Offender Record Information) and S.O.R.I (Sexual Offender Registry Information) at their chosen site prior to being placed. Individual settings may have additional requirements related to vaccinations, minimum GPA and/or ASL fluency.

Standards & Expectations

• Students not earning a C or better in any ASL class, DST 101 or DST 110 Deaf Culture will not be able to complete an AA Deaf Studies program and should speak to the program director about options including retaking courses under the Prep Certificate. 

• Students spend an additional hour per week engaged in language lab activities with every ASL class taken. Students are expected to attend various Deaf events and get involved with their program throughout their studies to apply their language skills and develop them further in real world, practical situations. 

• A CORI may be required for service learning or ASL 285 placements. 

• In order to meet transfer expectations and certification standards for working in a signing-based Deaf Education program, students must be able to:

• earn grades of B or better in all ASL classes; maintain an overall GPA of 2.7. 

• Mass. certification for Deaf Education: Total Communication requires a score of Intermediate Plus or higher on the S.L.P.I offered through MCDHH and DESE at time of certification.

Additional Costs

• As stated above, Deaf Studies majors are required to attend Deaf events each semester. Most are off campus and will require transportation. Some options will have a registration fee or ticket price and costs vary.

• Deaf Studies majors may incur copying costs (after the Bristol free allotment given per semester) associated with their Intro. to Deaf Studies course when creating their resource portfolio.

Career Pathway and Essential Functions

The Deaf Studies welcomes all interested students to our courses and programs but strives to be completely transparent with incoming students about the career pathways and essential functions required (or expected) at transfer institutions or in the workforce. The Education concentration prepares students primarily for transfer to a BA/BS Education program at a four-year institution or an entry level position as an aide (subject to individual educational program standards). Students are advised that they need to pass the Communication and Literacy Skills Test (CLST) of the Massachusetts Teacher Education Licensure (MTEL) conducted by the Dept of Education prior to acceptance into most teacher education BA/BA programs in Massachusetts. Most teachers of the Deaf hold a Master's degree in Deaf Ed.

Essential functions required include certain cognitive, physical and sensory abilities which are necessary to perform the work of a professional educator of signing children who are Deaf, hard-of-hearing or deaf-blind. (The essential functions may be different in special education working with non-verbal children who use sign vocabulary to augment communication.)

These are:

cognitive abilities - ability to process visual language; ability to read and write English

physical abilities - ability to accurately express and articulate American Sign Language (which includes fine and gross motor movement of: facial muscles, head, neck, and, both shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and ten fingers)

sensory abilities - ability to access and comprehend visual language

If you are unsure about meeting these essential functions of transfer or employment, with or without accommodations, please contact the program director for a consult.


• Students requiring developmental coursework should complete this in their first semester.

• Students should take ASL 101 and DST 101 in their first fall.

• Students who did not follow, or were not offered, a college prep track in high school, may find a 12 credit load or part-time credit load is a successful way to adjust to the rigors of this program of study.

After Bristol

• Students in this concentration have successfully transferred to Bridgewater State University, Northeastern University and Rhode Island College to degree programs in education. 

• Students seeking licensure as a teacher deaf/hard-of-hearing can seek a BA/BS program in Deaf Education out of state or seek any education degree and attend grad school at Boston University to achieve an EdM in Deaf education. Deaf Studies supports and prepares students for the Bi-lingual/Bi-cultural philosophy.

Infused General Education Competencies

First Year Experience, Oral Communication

Degree Requirements

Concentration Courses

Choose one of the following concentration options:

Course #
Early Childhood Education  +
Sub-Total Credits
Total credits:

Course Sequencing

Item #
ECE/EDU Concentration Course  +
Sub-Total Credits
Item #
ECE/EDU Concentration Course  +
Sub-Total Credits
Item #
ECE/EDU Concentration Course  +
Sub-Total Credits


Academic Area

Arts and Humanities

Degree Offered

Associate in Arts in Deaf Studies (Education)


Program Code


Program Contact

Sandy Lygren
Program Co-Coordinator

Dana Schlang
Program Co-Coordinator

Jennifer Puniello
Dean of Arts and Humanities



CIP Code