See language in a new way at CCC


CCC graduate April Winters uses American Sign Language to refer to her home. The ASL and Interpreting Studies program at Coconino Community College has a new degree to lay the foundation for being an interpreter for the Deaf community.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Coconino Community College graduate April Winters is at Northern Arizona University studying to be an English teacher.


While at CCC, she took American Sign Language courses to fulfill her foreign language requirements for her degree.


“The Deaf community is a smaller community,” Winters said. “And there is a need that isn’t always filled, especially in public schools.”


The ASL and Interpreting Studies program at CCC is offering a new associate degree beginning the Fall semester. The degree is intended to lay the foundation for being an interpreter in the Deaf community. Additionally, this Spring, the program will be offering a new course: Introduction to the Deaf Community.


Sarah Benton, ASL faculty at CCC, said the focus of the new program will be to lay the groundwork in ASL and Deaf culture and to offer an understanding of a career in ASL Interpreting. From there, students, with transferrable credits, can choose to continue at a four-year university to complete their studies in interpreting.


But ASL isn’t just for people who want to go into the field, Benton added. The credits for ASL courses serve as foreign language requirements for any degree.


“That is a wonderful thing,” Benton said. “So, if you want to pursue a career in Early Childhood Education, or Hotel Restaurant Management, and your degree requires four years of a foreign language, ASL courses apply.”


Benton said the ASL program at CCC has been aligned with industry needs. Interpreters need skill in both language proficiency and interpreting proficiency. At CCC, students get the language proficiency, and when they transfer to a four-year program, like the one at the University of Arizona, they can develop the interpreting skills they will need to be successful.


In addition to the new ASL degree, CCC is also offering for the first time this Spring a course introducing students to the Deaf community. Benton said ASL 200 will be taught in American Sign Language by a faculty member in the Deaf community. There will also be interpreters for those who don’t know ASL as proficiently.


“It’s also exciting that we have an ASL Language Mentor Program for students enrolled in ASL classes,” Benton said. “it’s something unique to CCC. We’ve hired eight Deaf people from around the state who serve as mentors for our students.”


The experience offers students authentic, one-on-one conversations with Deaf individuals to practice their emerging ASL skills.


Winters, who will complete her student-teaching component this Spring, kept all of her ASL books in order to continue to practice the language and become more proficient.


“It’s a hard language to learn,” Winters said, adding that her experience with the faculty and the ASL coursework at CCC was fun and rewarding.


Winters, whose passion for English Literature fills her voice, has the goal of sharing that passion with her students, including any students she may have in the future who are in the Deaf community.


For more information about ASL and Interpreting Studies, visit



Monday, 14th December 2020

All Dates

  • Monday, 14th December 2020