This unique summer course combines a Dutch Sign Language course (Nederlandse Gebarentaal NGT) with theoretical perspectives on diverse themes related to the experience, history and social relations in which communities that use sign languages are embedded.

Through the course, students will join weekly excursion to meet and interact with different members of the Dutch deaf community and to actually use Dutch Sign Language. The course challenges preconceived notions about deafness and sign languages, and more broadly invites a re-evaluation of how such concepts as 'language', 'culture', and 'disability' should be defined. As such, the course may be of interest to any student with an interest in, among other things, language and culture and the interaction between the two, minority studies, and disability studies.

The course invites students to join a journey to explore a new language, an entirely new language modality and the cultural wealth and social worlds and dilemmas associated with it.

UCUHUMSIG11 is a level 1 course. The course can fulfill your Language and Culture requirement. The UCHUMSIG11 can count as Curriculum Enrichment towards the Honours certificate

Students of all academic backgrounds who have fulfilled their breadth requirement and have obtained at least 60 ECTS before the start of the course, with a minimum GPA of 3.3. Pre-registered students will be contacted to provide a motivation statement for the selection procedure. Students should be prepared for an intensive, demanding (and rewarding!) experience.

"I think the most difficult thing to do as a language student is extract yourself from what you know to consider all of the possibilities that different languages and cultures might bring you. Your thinking about language is limited by what you know – the rules of French, German or Spanish. The sign language course was something that completely revolutionized my way of thinking - not only is using a different modality to communicate hard, it is eye opening. Suddenly, you're more aware of what language and communication is because everything you thought you knew about how we could do it has to be built up from the ground all over again. This is not only done through the learning of sign language but also through the seminars on Deaf culture, as they bring an entirely new perspective to understanding language and the culture and identity that are closely tied to it. For this reason, this is a course for  anyone looking to learn about  language, communication and culture, and will be particularly interesting for anyone interested in questioning their knowledge on all of the above."
- Anahi Saravia Herrera (Class of 2018)

"The thing I liked most about the Sign language and Deaf culture course was how hands-on it was. The teachers wanted our opinion in essays instead of literature reviews, and we had to communicate in ISL every day and feel the anxiety of not being able to do so very well but having no other means. We talked about Deafness with Deaf people and not only with academics and fellow students, but also with people who deal with Deafness from the medical, academic, legal, educational, social and personal perspectives. This was the best course I took at UCU. It was a curious experience to be immersed in an area that I knew very little about beforehand, and now being back to encountering very little of the Deaf world I have to reconsider the bystander perspective."
- Ieva Staliūnaitė (Class of 2016)

  • Video: Marloes Oomen, instructor Sign Language and Perspectives on Deaf Culture
  • See course outline of UCHUMSIG11 in the Course Planner.
  • For more information, contact the course coordinator and Deaf Studies course instructor Dr Shifra Kisch (