Five Industries that Want to Hire Professionals with Introductory American Sign Language Skills

American Sign Language (ASL) is the most common language used by the Deaf community in both the United States and Canada. In the United States alone, there are more than half a million people who use ASL as their primary language. ASL is also the third most commonly used language in the United States, after English and Spanish. However, unlike English and Spanish, ASL is not commonly offered in public schools, meaning many people outside of the Deaf community still do not have much exposure or experience with ASL. 

According to Sharon Borkowski, senior lecturer in American Sign Language at Purdue University, learning even a little bit of ASL can help people forge connections with the Deaf community and gain a deeper understanding of Deaf culture and perspectives. 

“Learning American Sign Language, even at a basic level, is incredibly valuable and can introduce you to new experiences,” said Borkowski. “It opens doors to connections with the Deaf community, providing deeper insight into their culture, challenges, and unique perspectives. It’s more than just learning a language; it’s about inclusivity and learning from each other.” 

ASL can also be a valuable career skill. Many industries seek out job candidates who are bilingual, and since ASL is the third most common language in the U.S., there is considerable demand for ASL ability. According to the National Deaf Center, there is a shortage of ASL interpreters and support staff. This shortage has a significant effect on the Deaf community’s ability to access common social services and educational resources. Many industries also want professionals who have some ASL experience to help with basic interpretation and communications.  

The Industries Where ASL Skills are In-Demand 


Within the education field, ASL skills are in high demand. Learning some introductory ASL can help teachers and administrators communicate with students who use sign language as their primary language. Teachers who know basic ASL can better support deaf students as they navigate the classroom. Further, being able to communicate in ASL helps teachers foster inclusivity in their classrooms, and it ensures that deaf and hard-of-hearing students have equal access to educational materials.  

According to the National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services, there is a nationwide shortage of special education teachers. Teachers of the deaf are particularly needed since many deaf and hard-of-hearing students attend mainstream educational institutions, where staff shortages in special education are common.  


Like education, healthcare is an essential social service that all people need access to regardless of their abilities. In the healthcare field, there is a demand for medical receptionists with some ASL skills who can do basic communication with deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. Being able to communicate basic information with ASL helps medical receptionists ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing patients can understand information about appointments, medical history, and other essential details. 

Within the nursing field, there is a demand for nurses and nurse assistants who have some ASL skills. Like medical receptionists, nurse assistants interact with patients daily and play a pivotal role in communicating important medical information. Knowing basic ASL can help nurse assistants improve deaf and hard-of-hearing patients’ quality of care and overall patient experience.  


In hospitality, there are many different customer service career opportunities for professionals who have ASL skills. Customer satisfaction is integral in the hospitality industry, and knowing some ASL helps ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing customers in restaurants, hotels and other venues have a welcoming and inclusive experience.  

Social Services 

The social services industry provides important services to disabled people, including people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Within the industry, there is a big demand for basic ASL skills, especially in client interaction and advocacy roles. In client interaction roles, professionals with some ASL experience can assist deaf and hard-of-hearing clients with accessing disability services that can improve their quality of life. In advocacy roles, professionals with ASL experience can advocate for the rights and needs of the Deaf community, promoting inclusivity and accessibility in social programs and services.   

Technology and Media  

In a world where many people access information using the internet, accessibility is crucial. Tech and media companies often hire content moderators with some ASL experience that can ensure online informational content is accessible to those with disabilities. Content moderators can help make online information more accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing people by adding accessibility features like captions and visual alerts. Content moderators who are knowledgeable about the Deaf community can also review content about deafness to make sure it is accurate.  

Learn Valuable ASL Skills Online at Purdue  

In all these industries and many others, ASL is a valuable skill that can help promote inclusivity and accessibility. Purdue University is working to increase basic ASL competency by offering 100% online professional development courses in American Sign Language. These courses cover the basics of communicating in ASL, and students who complete all three courses can earn an American Sign Language Certificate from Purdue. To learn more about the courses, including how to register, please visit the program’s webpage.  

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