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Language & Culture Center for Deaf Studies at Ohlone College

About the Language & Culture Center for Deaf Studies

The Language & Culture Center for Deaf Studies is Building 6 on the Fremont campus of Ohlone College. It is the location for our premier programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, and programs in Interpreter Preparation, the study of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. Students in all disciplines are served by faculty and staff with extensive and unique expertise.

Two female and one male students signing while sitting at an outdoor table.The Language & Culture Center for Deaf Studies is proud to have one of the largest and most comprehensive programs designed to meet the academic and vocational needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. The staff includes several full-time Deaf instructors and many part-time Deaf instructors and is lead by one of the few Deaf Administrators in the state of California.

The College

Established in 1966, Ohlone College serves the cities of Fremont and Newark, California. The main campus is located in Fremont on Mission Boulevard just off the 680 Freeway on a beautiful 534-acre hillside site just south of historical Mission San Jose (directions).

In 1972, the College reached out and welcomed Deaf persons to participate in college activities as students and members of the college faculty. This decision made Ohlone College a pioneer among the community colleges that now serve Deaf students. The Ohlone College Deaf Studies Division was established when the College opened its doors to 30 Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. The population changes each semester and the Deaf Studies Division has grown and has served up to 200 Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in a single year.


The Mission of the Ohlone College Deaf Studies Division is to provide quality post-secondary education and training opportunities to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. The Center is committed to full communication access for all who can benefit from instruction. In order to implement the mission of the Center, all faculty and staff are fluent in American Sign Language, trained in the areas of Deaf Education and/or Rehabilitation Counseling, and are sensitive to the diverse cultural and educational background of the students.

The Language & Culture Center for Deaf Studies is designed to open doors to educational and occupational opportunities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Our primary purpose is to provide an opportunity for all individuals to gain maximum benefit from their educational experience. Ohlone College encourages Deaf and Hard of Hearing students to participate with their peers in the same activities and courses.

Special services are provided to meet the unique needs of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and help them achieve a successful college career. The large Deaf student population allows for a wide variety of extracurricular activities including special interest clubs on campus. There are many activities for students within the local and Bay Area Deaf Community as well.

In the Language & Culture Center for Deaf Studies, the average Deaf enrollment is approximately 200 students. Deaf students at Ohlone College are diverse in cultural and educational backgrounds. They come from out-of-state and many foreign countries, reflecting the Ohlone College motto “A World of Cultures United in Learning.” They participate in student government, sports, drama and all phases of campus affairs. Students enroll in a variety of programs and courses, which may lead to professional or occupational careers or enrichment experience.

As a result of the success of the Deaf Program, the Interpreter Preparation Program (IPP) was established in 1977. Ohlone College offers a two-year Associate in Arts degree in Interpreter Preparation; the only A.A. program in Northern California. Upon completion of the program, many graduates remain here at Ohlone College to start their profession as Sign Language Interpreters or stay nearby and work with the large Deaf Community in the Bay Area.

The growing awareness and recognition of the Deaf Community as a cultural and linguistic minority has resulted in a surge in the general public's desire to communicate with Deaf people. American Sign Language is one of the most used languages in the United States, other than English. Since 1982, Ohlone College has been offering a two-year Associate in Arts degree in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies.

Contact us with any questions you may have.

Student talks with two ASL interpreters at an outdoor Ohlone event.


The Deaf Studies Division engages in partnerships that enhance the learning experiences of our students.

In April 2005, Japanese American Signers Society (JASS) and the Ohlone Community College District, entered into a Partnership Agreement. In March of 2007, Ohlone and JASS formalized a joint Implementation Agreement (PDF). This Agreement calls for mutual cooperation, and student and faculty exchange, in a number of important areas. It is also supported by the generous assistance of the Nippon Foundation.

In February 2007, faculty representatives from Ohlone Deaf Studies Division went to Stockholm to provide training to faculty of Sodertorns Folkhogskola on how to teach Deaf culture effectively. In February 2008, officials of Sodertorns Folkhogskola provided consultation to the members of Ohlone’s Deaf Studies Division the state of the art techniques of teaching and preparing future interpreters. In the spirit of continued friendship, international goodwill and mutual interest, the Interpreter Preparation Programs at Sodertorns Folkhogskola and Ohlone Community College District have developed an Implementation Agreement (PDF) to formalize a sister program relationship.

Since 1983, Ohlone College has been in partnership with Gallaudet University, hosting the Gallaudet University Regional Center - West to provide educational opportunities, professional development, information dissemination, build local and regional alliances and promote excellence in academics for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in the Western United States.

Evelyn Henderson Deaf Studies Lab

In 2010, the Deaf Studies Division was able to fully equip a classroom and adjacent computer lab with new technology, software and students in the new Evelyn Henderson Deaf Studies Lab. This lab is open to all Division students.

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