Human Services Concentration

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 human services area of choice. Students in this concentration are seeking entry-level or assistant positions in Deaf human service settings or they plan to transfer and specialize in social work, vocational rehabilitation, counseling or other related fields.

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.

• 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 who want to meet the MassTransfer block should take a 3 credit science as their free elective.

• Students wanting to continue on in Social Work should choose an additional program elective as their free elective.

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 in 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. 

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 program welcomes all interested students to our courses and program 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 Human Services concentration prepares students to transfer as juniors into a baccalaureate program of their choice or into an entry level position.

Human service workers in the ASL workforce* are employed in a variety of settings and with a variety of clients. Essential functions in those settings include certain cognitive, physical and sensory abilities which are necessary.

These are:

cognitive abilities - ability to process visual language.

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 employment, with or without accommodations, please contact the program director for a consult.

*Those who go on to human services work with the general population will not have these essential functions.


• 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

• Students who also wish to complete the MassTransfer block should take an additional 3-4 credit science elective. 

• Adhere to semester sequencing to ensure completion of necessary pre-requisites. 

After Bristol

• If you plan to transfer to a four-year institution, visit the Transfer Affairs website at 

Infused General Education Competencies

First-Year Experience, Oral Communication

Item #

Elective Courses

Total credits:

Course Sequencing

Item #
Mathematics Elective  +
Program Elective (1 or 2)  +
3 - 4
Free Elective  +
Sub-Total Credits

Students are encouraged to take a Gen Ed course (HST 111, ENG 102, Lab Science Elective or Math Elective) in the summer between semesters 2 and 3 to lighten the work load.

Item #
Science Elective  +
3 - 4
Program Elective  +
3 - 4
Sub-Total Credits




Associate Degree


Degree Offered

Associate in Arts in Deaf Studies

Program Contact

Jennifer Puniello, Interim Dean,

Sandy Lygren,
Co-Program Coordinator,

Dana Schlang,
Co-Program Coordinator,