American Sign Language (ASL) was cited to be "the fourth most used language in the United States" after three other languages (Spanish, French and German). [Ref]. ASL is now ranked the third most studied language in the U.S. of higher education as of Fall 2013 after Spanish and French. [Ref]
A quickly growing number of people in North America has been interested in learning ASL. There has been a growing number of ASL courses offered in schools from preschools to universities since the 1980s.
Courses in ASL Linguistics and ASL/Deaf Studies have flourished since the 1970s in parallel to the growth of ASL classes and instructors.
ASL instructors in the early days were typically qualified native Deaf Ameslan. Today, more ASL instructors are expected to meet standard qualifications in this field.
Institutions should consider these standard qualifications when hiring ASL instructors who should meet the following criteria (which may vary slightly from a region to another):
- Native or, if not available, near-native (highest fluency) ASL (usually Deaf) speaker. A document or certification of a high score on ASL Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) or assessment conducted by a qualified organizations, such as Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (Canada), Gallaudet University, and ASL Teachers Association (U.S.).
- Masters degree or higher, or if not available, Bachelors degree.
- In-depth knowledge of Deaf Culture and community, comparative linguistics, and interpreting issues. Has a strong background, interaction, and experience in Deaf culture and community of Deaf people.
- Experience in teaching ASL and using a standard curriculum (e.g. Vista Signing Naturally).
- a ASLTA or ASL Instructor certification or a degree in this relevant field, or experience equivalence. An interpreter certificate is not an appropriate qualification for teaching ASL.
Also see how long to learn sign language
Also see how to pick the right program for sign language class.