An Introduction to American Sign Language

For Federal HR Professionals & Supervisors

(5 day course - 40 hours)

This course is available for On-Site Training only. We will bring this course to your agency or company.
Contact Don Dickson, On-Site Training Manager at (301) 455-5633 or

Now Avaliable

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About this course

This course is a basic of the ASL 1 program, providing students with opportunities to produce and comprehend ASL as used in everyday conversational settings, including receptive and productive mastery using multiple grammatical features and conventional ASL discourse styles (such as narrative and explanatory). Students utilize appropriate vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and cultural knowledge in their ASL conversations. Students continue the use of common ASL sentences: topic comment, rhetorical, conditional, declarative, and conjunctions. Students learn and use complex classifiers (use of hand shapes) to describe concrete and abstract items such as physical characteristics, clothing, buildings, vehicles, animals, objects, etc. This course trains students to use ASL numbering systems in various contexts.


  • Practice specific language functions found in ASL such as giving reasons, making requests, describing specific locations, opining conversations, asking for permission, expressing concern, telling about life events, correcting and elaborating.
  • Accurately use finger spelling, ASL numbers, topic/comment structure, spatial referencing, intermediate-level classifiers, spatial and inflection verbs, conditional sentences, and temporal sequencing.
  • Demonstrate intermediate conversational fluency.
  • Model culturally sensitive interactions with the American Deaf community.

Training Schedule

The course is taught over the course of 5 weeks. The 1-day on, and 6 days off training design, works well, and provides adequate time for practice, trial and error, and systematic learning. Each full-day program builds on the previous lessons and provides a logical and smooth methodology for mastering ASL and applying it to the federal workplace.

Instructional Methodology

The Introduction to American Sign Language for Supervisors and HR Professionals training course is taught by knowledgeable, highly skilled instructors who have a wealth of practical experience and know how-to present complex material in an easily understandable manner. This course is taught using our Active*Learn ™ training model. Consists of fast-paced learning, break-out sessions, team assignments, learn by doing. We have used this approach for over three years with superb student evaluations. The students learn by doing and enjoy the experience.


  1. Getting acquainted with ASL
    • Introduction to American Sign Language
    • ASL History
    • The Deaf Community
    • Using the TTY
    • Everyday Signs
  2. It's not what you sign but how you sign it
    • Lip Reading
    • Facial Expressions
    • Signing Space
    • Finger Spelling Part 1
  3. A show of hands
    • Finger Spelling Part 2
    • Signing Clearly
    • Starting a Conversation
    • Past, Present, and Future
  4. Working on the Finer Points
    • Sentence Structure
    • The Yes/No Question
    • The Five WH Questions
    • Negotiation in ASL

About your instructor

American Sign Language (Teri Saff, M.S.)

INSTRUCTOR – Teri Saff is among the premier trainers in Maryland. For 20+ years she has trained and consulted for federal, state and county agencies. Her expertise in Sign Language and her fluency in English and Spanish have been combined in numerous capacities: including Spanish instructor at Gallaudet University, trainer for Voice of America’s Miami workshops for federal Cuban native speakers taught in Spanish, to present day work with elementary school teachers and children in Anne Arundel County, HR professionals at NIH, and others.

Teri Saff is a former HR and EEO Director for the State of Maryland. She is also a former Maryland state-wide Training provider for DHMH—the largest healthcare provider in the state. She is a certified professional counselor in Maryland and is an educator at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, and Gallaudet University. Her ongoing training and consulting expertise with the federal government in the VA Medical System, for the Department of Defense, and her current work teaching children and teachers ASL for use with special needs children in the Maryland School System, mark her as a committed parent, advocate, and leader, in the field. She has 2 special needs children herself and assists in their schools.

As a tri-lingual trainer (English, Spanish and Sign Language) Teri Saff has provided and supported training for state/federal personnel in working with deaf employees and contractors.

For additional details, price and availability, contact Don Dickson, Government Training at (301)455-5633.