Deaf Interpreter: Certification and Training Program Info

Deaf interpreter training programs are designed for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals who are interested in becoming interpreters and are available through organizations like the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Hearing persons desiring an education in the field often pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in sign language interpretation, being taught the fundamentals of American Sign Language (ASL), like finger-spelling, specialized vocabulary, body language and grammar.

Essential Information

Associate's students learn to interpret dialogues, idioms, music, stories and other expressions, and can teach the deaf to translate signs into speech. They improve their communicative abilities by practicing focused listening, text analysis, paraphrasing, distraction filtering, providing feedback and clarity interpretation assessment. They also develop professionalism and a ethical consciousness. Direct experience is gained through an interpretation practicum that could take place in a medical facility, legal, educational or religious setting. Only a high school diploma or General Education Development equivalent is necessary for admission. Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Sign Language Interpretation curricula includes more general education units and elective options and teaches advanced ASL. The B.A. side is more culturally focused, covering history, literature and film in the community, while the B.S. path concentrates on theory and specialized interpretation techniques. Applicants must have a relevant associate's degree and pass an ASL entrance exam. Some schools only require a high school diploma.

  • Program Levels: Associate's and bachelor's
  • Program Fields: Sign Language Interpretation
  • Prerequisites: A high school diploma or equivalent for an associate's, an interpretation associate's and a passed ASL exam for a bachelor's
  • Other Requirements: Completion of an internship for graduation

Associate's Degree Sign Language Interpretation

Associate's curriculum includes general education units and laboratory courses that involve the recording and analysis of interpretation performances. In addition to ASL conversation and theatre, core subjects include:

  • Hearing anatomy and physiology
  • Exact English signing
  • Transliteration
  • Ethics of interpretation
  • Sign to voice

Bachelor's Degree in Sign Language Interpretation

Bachelor's degree programs can include a rigorous practicum and service learning components. Examples of lecture topics are:

  • Interactive interpreting
  • Deaf culture literature and film
  • Healthcare interpreting
  • Educational interpreting
  • Deaf-blind interpreting

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for interpreters and translators is predicted to increase by 46% over 2012-2022, with a mean salary of $49,320 as of May 2014.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates can further their studies with a master's degree in interpreting, where they'll learn theories, practical applications and teaching techniques. Since 2012, only bachelor's degree holders can take the National Interpreter Certification (NIC) exam. Credentials are maintained with continuing education classes. There are also individual state credentialing tests.

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