Elective Years 1 and 2: American Sign Language for Medical Students

Department: Social Accountability

American Sign Language for Medical Students

Location: University of Alberta Katz Building

12 Hours over a 6 week period


Preceptor Dr Katherine Smith kesmith@ualberta.ca

Club Advisor and Coordinator An Nguyen huean@ualberta.ca

Medical Student Co-Leads Kirsten Webster kawebste@ualberta.ca and Jenice Ma jnma@ualberta.ca


The American Sign Language (ASL) for Medical Students elective gives students in Years 1 and 2 the opportunity to learn, practice, and refine their skills in ASL. In addition, they will meet and interact with Deaf communities to learn about Deaf culture. The elective is organized by the Accessibility and Inclusivity in Medicine Club. The ASL teaching will be conducted by certified instructors from the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA). In addition, the elective is partnered with the Edmonton Association of the Deaf as well as Deaf advocates (in 2022: Crystal Jones and Calvin Novak). The elective consists of six 2-hour long sessions, with the first session involving Deaf community members as mandatory. These sessions will be completed throughout the fall semester for a maximum elective time of 12 hours.


Completing this elective should:

  • Introduce the student to the basic American Sign Language with a specific focus on common medical terminology.
  • Help develop the student’s skill at communicating with methods outside of spoken words.
  • Introduce the student to Deaf culture and Deaf communities.
  • Help the student better understand how to work through language barriers and practice what it means to make healthcare accessible to all.
Additional Notes:


Undergraduate medical students in Years 1 and 2 at the University of Alberta.

There is a 40 person limit. If the number of people who sign up exceed 40, attendees will be chosen via a lottery system.

This elective will be hosted once yearly in the early Fall semester, typically on Wednesday or Thursday Nights. This is a beginner friendly ASL workshop.

Students must be able to attend a minimum of four sessions, one of those being the first session.

Last Updated: September 20, 2022