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ASL Fulfills Language Requirement,
Complements Mission

Students use their American Sign Language skills
Students use their American Sign Language skills during a mass for the
deaf community on April 17.


Neumann University is one of the few colleges that allow American Sign Language (ASL) classes to fulfill the language requirement for graduation. It makes perfect sense at a college that embraces the Franciscan tradition. After all, a section of the university mission statement is that “knowledge is a gift to be shared in the service of others.”

ASL professor Annemarie O’Malley
ASL professor Annemarie O’Malley
uses her skills at the April 17 Mass.

According to ASL professor Annemarie O’Malley, the classes attract students from across all majors. They find the courses to be a very eye opening experience, and they get an opportunity to use their newly acquired skills.

“I thought it would be great to learn more about the deaf culture and language, and also be that one nurse that can stand out and save a person's life because I know how to sign. I think it makes a great difference in a person's health care when they have a bond with their nurse,” said nursing student Landolen Cooper.

For the past several years, O’Malley has taken a group of her students to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia to assist in a mass honoring persons with disabilities. On April 17, O’Malley hosted a mass at Neumann University’s Sacred Heart Chapel for the deaf community. It was celebrated by Monsignor Paul Dougherty.

“All of the students have always reported back on how eye opening and humbling these masses are. It’s real life interaction,” O’Malley said.

Most of O’Malley’s students have very little or no interaction with the deaf community and therefore do not know sign language when they begin her classes. It doesn’t take long for them to embrace this new skill.

“I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to not only learn a language, but learn more about a culture. This class and professor O'Malley have taught me that being different is never a bad thing. She has taught our class the true meaning of accepting others,” said Neumann student Cayla Reed.


In order to learn any language, students needs to practice. The April mass was just one way in which O’Malley gives her students these opportunities. “Exposure and practice is the only way to learn it. I try to get them those experiences,” O’Malley explained.



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