LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) — -

Liberty University says it's the first school in Virginia to offer a bachelor's degree in American sign language and interpreting.

Liberty began offering the degree program this semester to address a national shortage of interpreters.

The university says in a news release that the program gives students the skills needed to complete a national certification exam to become professional interpreters.

Assistant professor Nicole Thorn says interpreters for deaf and hearing-impaired people are needed in the workplace, at medical facilities and in the education field.