American Sign Language

Did you know that over 28 million Americans are considered Deaf or Hard of Hearing and that Grand Rapids has approximately 25,414 deaf and hard of hearing individuals?  Of the top foreign languages studied in colleges and universities in the U.S. in 2013 ASL was number 3 behind Spanish and French.  ASL’s popularity continues to grow!

American Sign Language classes at GRCC prepare you to connect with the local and national Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. Classes are offered at a variety of times at our downtown campus.

Adjunct faculty members can advise you with details on available classes, prerequisites if any, enrollment dates, potential career options, information on a West Michigan agency that serves the Deaf and Hard Hearing population with opportunities to volunteer, attend local Deaf events, and be involved in the Deaf community. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Classes:

Does GRCC have an Interpreter Training Program (ITP)?

No, we do not.  Our classes are conversational ASL. They can be taken as elective credit. 

The nearest ITP is at Lansing Community College.  You can contact Brenda Cartwright, Director at  A four year ITP is offered at Madonna University in Livonia, MI.  You contact: Daniel McDougall, Chair and Associate Professor at

Do GRCC’s ASL, Fingerspelling, and Introduction to Deaf Culture classes transfer to LCC?

No, they do not.  We do not have an articulation agreement with LCC.

Do GRCC’s ASL, Fingerspelling, and Introduction to Deaf Culture classes transfer to other colleges and universities?

Yes.  Click the link to find out about what courses transfer:  GRCC to Other Institutions.

To verify acceptance of credits, check with a counselor at GRCC or the college or university you plan to transfer to.

If I have taken ASL classes at the high school level or at a different college or university may I enroll in a higher level of ASL at GRCC?

Yes, you may if you successfully complete and pass (with a minimum of a “C” or higher) an ASL assessment at GRCC.We use the assessment to make sure you are enrolled in the appropriate ASL course for your skill level. For more information on scheduling a date and time to take either the Level 1(to enroll in ASL 2) or Level 2(to enroll in ASL 3) Assessment please contact Rachel Whitmore at  Be sure to schedule this assessment several weeks before the semester you plan on attending GRCC.

Is there a prerequisite to enroll in the Fingerspelling class?

Yes, there is.Students must take ASL 1(SL 171) and pass with a “C” or higher in order to enroll in Fingerspelling.  The Fingerspelling Instructor is Deaf and teaches the class in sign language only with no voice.  There is a professional sign language interpreter present for the first night of class.

Is there a prerequisite to enroll in the Introduction to Deaf Culture class?

No, there is not.  The instructor is Deaf and there are two professional sign language interpreters in the class for the duration of the semester.


Rachel Whitmore                                                                   
Office: Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, formerly Main Building 357