Students in sign language interpretation associate's degree programs 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. 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 include more general education units and elective options and teach advanced American Sign Language (ASL). The B.A. is more culturally focused, covering history, literature and film in the community, while the B.S. concentrates on theory and specialized interpretation techniques. Completion of an internship may be required for graduation. Applicants must have a relevant associate's degree and pass an ASL entrance exam. Some schools only require a high school diploma.
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
- Ethics of interpretation
- Sign to voice
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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 29% over 2014-2024. These professionals earned a mean salary of $48,360 as of May 2015.
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.
Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in sign language interpretation can prepare students to begin work as interpreters in a wide variety of settings. Students who complete a 4-year program are also qualified to sit for credentialing exams.