American Sign Language


American Sign Language has been offered during the academic year since fall 2019, after the Arts & Sciences faculty decided in 2018 to approve the language as fulfilling the A&S language requirement.

In addition to the courses we teach, we have a regularly scheduled ASL Conversation Hour, affiliated with the Language Resource Center and all in the Cornell community are welcome to join.

Follow us on Facebook at ASL@Cornell!

Classes Offered

The following courses fulfill the Arts & Sciences language requirement:

  • ASL 1101, Introduction to American Sign Language I
  • ASL 1102, Introduction to American Sign Language II
  • ASL 2201, Intermediate American Sign Language I
  • ASL 2202, Intermediate American Sign Language II

The following courses are taught in ASL and have language prerequisites. For more information, view the ASL course details here.

  • ASL 2301, Modern Deaf Culture
  • ASL 2302, ASL Literature

For detailed course descriptions, please refer to the ASL section of the Linguistics Course Offerings list. See our departmental course roster here.


Brenda Schertz smiling

Brenda Schertz, Senior Lecturer

I graduated from the Art Institute of Boston with a BFA, and received my MA in ASL Education from Gallaudet University.

My main interests include American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf studies, concentrating on Deaf culture art, film and theatre. I coordinated the annual Maine Deaf Film Festival for twelve years and most recently co-chaired the Deaf Rochester Film Festival in 2017. An independent study on Deaf View Image Art (De’VIA) led to a first ever documented and curated exhibit organized in 1993 which led to successive exhibits in Boston and Oakland. These exhibits presented the Deaf experience through art and film. With the support from Northeastern University, I organized a year-long, seven-city National Touring Exhibit of Deaf Culture Art in 1999. In 2018, I curated the exhibition Beyond Form: Non-Objective Art by Deaf Artists for the Dyer Arts Center at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

My other interests include Translation and Deaf Interpreting. I have taught courses related to translation, focusing on ASL to English and English to ASL, showing how translation theories can be applied to the process. I offer seminars related to Deaf interpreting, a process in which a specialist deaf interpreter takes a spoken message that has been interpreted into ASL, and interprets it into a form that is fully comprehensible to a consumer.

I have taught ASL at the college level for 25 years, beginning at Northeastern University and Emerson College, both in Boston, MA. When my husband’s career took him to Portland, ME I worked at the University of Southern Maine where I remained for 12 years. I relocated to Rochester, NY six years ago and I taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester before coming to Cornell. 

Nora OwenNora Owen, Teaching Associate

I was born and raised in San Diego, California. I learned ASL when I was three years old and attended the California School for the Deaf in Riverside, CSDR. ASL is my first language, English is my second, and California will always have a place in my heart. After graduating from CSDR, I moved to Rochester, NY to attend NTID/RIT, where I earned a Master’s Degree in Deaf Education. For three years after that, I taught ASL at the University of Buffalo, and found it a great experience. I moved to Colorado and lived there for another three years as a trainer for Sorenson Communications. I then held a one-year position as an ASL Specialist for ages 3 to 11 at The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, MA before moving back to Rochester. I am now looking forward to my first year as an ASL Instructor at Cornell University. I have been doing CrossFit for several years and I cannot live without it. I love water activities such as kayaking, SUPing (Stand-Up Paddleboarding), swimming, boating and more. I travel when I can and enjoy exploring new cultures and foods. I also enjoy cooking, hiking and walking with my dog, Odell, hanging out with my close friends and watching Netflix.

Placement and Transfer of Credits

Email Brenda Schertz with questions about placement or transfer of credits.