Deaf Studies lecture in classroom

Welcome to Deaf Studies at NMU!

Officially integrated in the 2019 Fall semester, the Department of Languages, Literatures and International Studies is proud to include the Deaf Studies program in our realm. Northern Michigan University’s Deaf Studies program was established to create social cross-cultural connections between the Deaf and hearing communities. Grounding the program in American Sign Language, students participate in social settings applying new ASL skills to personal lives and/or social employment settings.

While learning American Sign Language, students may also choose to include the ASL Skills Development courses: These courses can hone receptive and expressive skills, as well as target ASL proficiency needs in fingerspelling, numbers and storytelling. We also offer courses which explore Deaf culture, civil rights, and history of the Deaf World community.  Depending the semester, many of the courses mentioned may be offered online.  

Additional Deaf Studies Resources

For resources outside of the classroom, check out the Deaf Studies Resources Guide presented by the Lydia M. Olson Library. Watch a video on how to access the resources guide. 

Video: Deaf Studies Program

Watch a brief video from Deaf Studies professor Lesli Williams, as she describes our Deaf Studies program and DFST course offerings!

Deaf Studies Events on Campus


Nyle Dimarco Living Out Loud poster

Nyle DiMarco - Living Out Loud

This semester, Nyle DiMarco virtually visited NMU! Winner of Dancing with the Stars and America’s Next Top Model, Nyle empowers audiences to believe they can do and be anything they want in life, no matter the obstacle. Born into a multigenerational deaf family, he is an honorary spokesperson for Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) and founder of the Nyle DiMarco Foundation, which works to improve the lives of deaf people around the world. Nyle shows audiences that with a sense of community, commitment to your goals, and belief in yourself, you can accomplish anything.


Club ASL poster

Student Organization - Club ASL

Check out Club ASL for opportunities to use your ASL skills with fellow classmates. 


Bob Laughna and Lesli

A special thank you to Mr. Robert Laughna

The Deaf Studies Program dedicates this page to Robert Laughna, the first American Sign Language instructor at NMU! Starting in 1975, Mr. Laughna taught ASL courses until 1998. You may also recognize him as NMU's former Swim & Dive Coach (1990 - 2001, 2009).

Pictured: Deaf Studies Instructor Lesli Williams with Mr. Laughna