Table of Contents

Terms to Know


Stands for Vincennes University, however most people who are in some way associated with the program refer to it as “VU.” These people include students, staff, interpreters, and Deaf and hard of hearing people.


Indiana School for the Deaf provides the location for the Vincennes University American Sign Language Program. More about the history and grounds of ISD is located within this booklet.

Big VU/Main campus

These two terms are used interchangeably to reference the main institution of Vincennes University located in Vincennes, Indiana.


The Aviation Technology Center is another satellite campus of Vincennes University in Indianapolis. Located on the grounds of the Indianapolis International Airport, students at the ATC receive training in flight and aviation maintenance


“The Jasper Campus” is a satellite campus of Vincennes University in Jasper, Indiana.

Deaf vs deaf

The difference between these two words stands as one regards a cultural aspect to Deaf people versus the condition that one is deaf.

The Campus

Indiana School for the Deaf

The Indiana School for the Deaf was founded in 1843 by William Willard, the first Deaf person in America to establish a state school for Deaf people. It was at first a semi-private school that offered free instruction to any Deaf person in-state or out-of-state that sought an education. The following year, the Willard School formally became the Indiana School for the Deaf, the first state-sponsored school in America that offered free education to any Deaf student. From that beginning, ISD has developed into one of the leading Deaf Schools in the nation, rich in heritage yet always striving to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

ISD is a fully accredited school for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in nursery school through high school. It provides services to approximately 370 students enrolled on campus and over 650 students through outreach services. About 60 percent of the students live on campus during the academic year. ISD offers a full range of social activities, including sports, clubs, and organizations.


Points of Interest

ISD Campus Police (20)

The Indiana School for the Deaf Campus Police Department became a State certified Police Department in 1976. Since the start of the Campus Police Department, all of the officers have had to attend the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

Raney Building (#1 #2)

The Raney Building contains the Outreach Program, Preschool, YMCA Youth Program, and VU ASL Program.

Alumni Hall (6)

Alumni hall contains the middle school, high school, administration offices, auditorium, and ISD Library.

Willard Building (4 & 5)

This building contains the Willard Cafeteria, elementary school, and elementary gymnasium.

Brown Cafeteria (10)

This is the main cafeteria on campus. Most ISD students eat meals here.

Student Dorm (8c 8a)

Fair Hall and Koob Hall make up the ISD boys’ and girls’ dormitory.

Kratzberg Recreation Center (KRC)  (8b)

This medium gym is in the center of the school grounds and is attached to the Deaf students’ dormitory wings.

Caskey Activity Building (17)

The Caskey Gym is the largest gymnasium including nantorium (pool) on campus which also houses athletic offices.

VU ASL Program

Our Facilities

Main Office

This area contains everything that keeps the VU ASL Program up and running, from the instructors and staff, to the student mailboxes.

ASL Classrooms

There are two American Sign Language classrooms in our facilities, but to ensure smaller class sizes, and better learning experiences the classrooms have been split in half providing us with four learning spaces. Each learning area is outfitted with a projector, projector screen, and dry erase board / whiteboard. The chairs and tables are separated for each student, and allow easy access up and down, and moving around.

“Hearing Classroom”

The “hearing classroom” as many students call it, houses our generalwhere an interpreter is used for communication. courses as well as courses with a Deaf instructor

Student Lounge

The student lounge is a small room off of the “hearing classroom” which has many  chairs and tables, as well as laptop bars for students to use for study and waiting. Inside is a refrigerator and freezer for students to store lunches and food items. Just outside the student lounge in the hallway is a soda and snack machine. Soda costs $1.25, and snacks vary from $.50 to $2 in price.


Adjacent from the student lounge is our library holding books and videos for students to check out as a part of ASL class requirements.

Computer Lab

The computer lab has many workstations each complete with a webcam. Microsoft Office 2007 and Adobe PDF Reader is installed for printing purposes. All computers are connected to the internet.

Audio/Visual Lab

Our AV Lab provides three recording stations for students to record themselves for various assignments, quizzes, examinations, and tests.

Multi-Purpose Room (MPR)

For dorm students, this is our kitchen. (Not pictured.)

Map (Click to Enlarge)

Dorm Life

The VU ASL Dorms house up to eight students. The dorms are suite style, having a common room, two bedrooms, and a private bathroom. The dorms are not carpeted, but can bring your own carpet should you want to have it.

You can paint the walls of the dorm to a color of your choosing. This allows you to feel more comfortable and less institutionalized in your living space. Each bedroom comes with a large (built-in) wardrobe, one Twin XL size bed, a desk, a chair. Some dorm suites have an additional stand alone wardrobe, or a small dresser, and suites may contain left over furniture.

Living in the dorms is much different than what many expect out of a “college campus” experience. It is more like living in an apartment versus a dormitory. There is no meal plan or cafeteria for VU Student use, and there is no cable television.

VU has a small bubble on the ISD campus, and we rarely interact with the goings about of ISD. Generally on weekdays, we should not venture around campus as to not disturb the Deaf students on campus. On weekends, however, most residential Deaf students go home leaving the campus to the Ball State University and VU ASL Dorm Students.

Do not let any of this discourage you from staying on campus in the dorms. Being at the center of the Deaf community in Indianapolis is a very great thing! You can meet many people by getting involved with volunteering activities on campus, and you are a stones throw away from the Greater Indianapolis Deaf Club as well as Deaf Community Services. You are also a ten minute drive from Broad Ripple, a local college hang out filled with shops, restaurants, and an assortment of peoples you can find no where else in the world.

Being Involved on Campus

Do not be afraid to get involved with activities on campus. There are many, many volunteer opportunities in which you can become involved. Dorm students have helped with sports teams, run concession stands, sold tickets to sporting events, and filled in many other volunteer positions.

Volunteering will not only put your face out into the community, it will also allow you to develop your receptive and expressive (understanding and signing) skills. You can also use volunteering as Deaf events (you’ll read more about these later) for your ASL class.

By volunteering, you will inevitably meet the Ball State University students who also run their practicum program on campus. BSU has a required amount of volunteer hours they must complete each month as a part of their program.

Dorm Map (Click to Enlarge)

Parking (Click to Enlarge)


ASL 1,2,3,4

These classes are small and are very involved with activities, demonstrations, and practicing different elements of American Sign Language. There are quizzes, a midterm, and a final in each of these classes. Homework assignments include an assortment of video papers, one book reaction paper, Deaf event attendance, and other miscellaneous assignments. Quizzes are both expressive (recorded signing) and receptive (written). Be prepared to let loose of your inhibition and become involved in the class. The first thing you work on is gesturing, and can prove to be difficult for many students as you are not allowed to use ASL.

ASL Grammar

The goal of this class is to increase understanding of the grammar involved in American Sign Language. The book for this class is very straightforward and explains all the concepts thoroughly. Usually taken with ASL 3, this class is really helpful to those who pick up vocabulary relatively easy. One learns word order, Non-Manual Signals, and how to transfer sign to paper through a technique called “gloss.”

Linguistics of ASL

This is an advanced ASL class with the lecture given in ASL. Applying Linguistic Theory to American Sign Language, students develop and understanding of morphology, phonolog, syntax, and semantics in ASL. There are quizzes (usually weekly) and homework assignments given, a midterm and a final. A project is assigned to students who must then present the project in ASL.

Careers in ASL

The goal of this class is to discover the many careers which one can use American Sign Language. You are required to give a small presentation at some point during the course, and do two observations outside of class. There is only one final in this class, and the students submit questions to be included on the final which the instructor then drafts.

Deaf Community

Deaf Community is a informational class about the history of the Deaf community in America, the origins of American Sign Language, what actually defines the Deaf Community, and brings in guest speakers from the community to speak with you about their experiences being involved in the Deaf community.

Deaf Culture

This class is a survey of American Deaf Culture. You will learn about five different areas: Values, Language and Tradition, Rules of Social Behavior, Group Norms, and Identity. It incorporates both lecture, student presentations written assignments, a midterm and a final. Be prepared for the student presentation you are required to do over one of the above areas. You will, essentially, be teaching the class about that topic.

Introduction to Ethics

This course provides an overview of different ethical perspectives. The book for this course is very dense, and is tough to get through, but it is worth the effort when it comes to the midterm examination and final. Each week there is an article report due, and you have the option to do extra credit via more article reports. There are two speeches each student is required to give throughout the semester.

English Composition 1 & 2

English Compositions are your run-of-the-mill writing classes. There are various quizzes over the readings, and papers due many of the weeks in the class.

English Grammar

English like you’ve never seen it before. English grammar provides a detailed account of the various aspects of the English language. There is a quiz each week, no midterm, and the final is matching, and fill in the blank covering everything from the beginning to the end of the semester.


Introduction to Public Speaking is just that. Throughout the semester you give various speeches including an introduction, demonstration, persuasion, and informative speech. There are quizzes in this class over the text material.

Introduction to Multicultural Studies

Description pending. Check back for updates.


General introduction to psychology class. Can be taken on campus or online.

Elements of General Linguistics

General linguistics is a very interesting class for those who are interested in language and its production. There is one large project which you must complete during the semester, but you have choices regarding the topic and type of project. The class contains quizzes, a midterm, and final.

Fitness/Wellness & Lab Science Elective

These two courses vary in subject matter as they are given online from professors at Big VU.

College Algebra

You must take a placement test to get into this class, and it is also given online from professors at Big VU. There is no mathematics instructor at the VU ASL Program.

Tips, Facts, and Other Minutia


The VU ASL Program is designed to take people of any level of signing, even those who have no previous experience, and teach them the language from the ground up. Your receptive skills will come very much before your expressive skills. This meaning, you will be able to understand what others are signing to you before you will be able to sign back to them easily.

This is normal. Do not be discouraged with your expressive ability early on. It matures as you move through the program building your vocabulary and grammar knowledge.


Fingerspelling is one of the most difficult aspects of ASL to grasp. Think of learning to read fingerspelling by not looking at each individual letter. Look instead at the word as a whole. This is much easier to read.

Think about how you read a book. You do not read the word “apple” as “a-p-p-l-e,” do you? No. You read the entire word as a whole. The same concept applies to fingerspelling in ASL.
You can practice your fingerspelling reception at – This site allows you to practice your receptive skills by choosing how many letters each word contains and adjusting the letter speed (faster or slower).

For ASL 1 students, you’ll be required to recognize up to three letter words in various assessments.

Deaf Events

When entering into the program, know that Deaf Events out and about in the community are a requirement for ASL classes. However, do not attend these events with the mindset that you are only coming for class. These external events comprise 90% of your language acquisition. The classroom only teaches you 10% of what you need to know!

I found throughout this past year, students only go to Deaf events to “get the credit” for class, and that is the end of it. While they may seem intimidating because your signing ability is low, Deaf people at the events will usually accommodate their signing style and speed when conversing with you. View Deaf Events as a part of your classroom learning experience.

Your best friend to finding Deaf events to attend in the Indianapolis area is the bulletin boards located in the hallway just outside the main office of the VU ASL Program. Another great way to easily be notified of Deaf events is to have them emailed to you in the IAD twice weekly email newsletter. This newsletter contains Deaf relevant news and a list of various events you can attend.  To sign up for this newsletter, look in the right column at

VHS - Video Tape

You will need to have access to a VHS player throughout the program. The library has many required videos which are only formatted on VHS tape. The AV Lab has many VHS/DVD combo players which you can use at any time during program operation hours.

Gear You May Need

There is an assortment of materials I recommend you invest in whether you are living on or off campus. This list is just some of the things I found myself constantly needing.


Wireless Internet

VU has wireless internet. To connect, adjust your computers settings to the “Vincennes University” network. You'll need to cotnact the front office to get the password for internet access.When prompted for a password, type “1111111111” (that’s ten (10) numeric ones in a row no spaces or quotes).

Soda and Snacks

VU provides a public fridge and freezer located in the student lounge for students to store food for lunch/dinner when needed, and a microwave is also provided for reheating. Feel free to bring your own food!

There is a soda machine and a snack machine located in the hallway directly outside of the student lounge. Snacks range anywhere from $.50 to $1.00, and soda is $1.25. The snack machine is unfortunately not refrigerated, so if you're purchasing chocolate be prepared for a possibly melted snack.