ASL Interpreter Colleges & Programs

Read about the topics that are covered by American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter programs. Get to know some of the colleges that offer programs for ASL interpreters, and learn what certifications are available. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

ASL interpretation programs offer a range of qualifications: certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees and post-graduate degrees. Most of them involve training in practical settings as well as the academic aspects such as linguistics and the general principles of interpreting. Read on to see what is covered in these programs.

What Topics are Covered in ASL Interpretation Programs?

Accurate interpretation in various settings is taught in most programs, for instance, face-to-face communication, conversations in small groups, communication in large groups, as well as interpreting speeches and other forms of monologue. Transliteration (the spelling of words using the deaf alphabet) is also essential.

The code of ethics for ASL interpreters as well as awareness and knowledge of the cultural differences between the deaf community and the hearing community are covered in most programs. Specializations include topics such as interpreting for people who are deaf and blind, as well as interpreting in educational settings.

Proficiency or fluency in ASL may be required to enter programs. Other essential attributes are cultural sensitivity, a strong sense of ethics, good interpersonal skills and dexterity.

What Colleges Offer Programs in ASL Interpretation?

Many 2-year colleges offer a certificate, an associate degree, or both.

  • San Diego Mesa College, in California, offers two options in ASL-English interpretation: a certificate and an associate degree.
  • Lansing Community College, in Michigan, has a certificate and an associate degree in ASL interpretation.
  • An Associate of Arts in ASL Interpreting is on offer at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Houston Community College, in Texas, has an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Interpreting Training-ASL.

Which Universities Offer Degrees in ASL Interpretation?

A bachelor's or postgraduate degree isn't necessary to become an ASL interpreter, but it may enhance your job prospects. Several 4-year universities offer degrees:

  • Gallaudet University, in Washington D.C., offers all its courses in both ASL and English; they offer ASL interpreting degrees including a bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D.
  • California State University - Long Beach has a Bachelor of Arts Option in ASL-English Interpreting.
  • Both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in ASL-English interpreting are available at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
  • The University of Northern Colorado has a bachelor's program in ASL-English interpretation with focus on either community interpretation to adults or educational interpretation for schoolchildren.

What are the Certification Options for an ASL Interpreter?

Certification is required for ASL interpreters when they want to work as court interpreters. Most states have their own requirements and exams. Certified ASL interpreters for proceedings in US federal courts have to be in possession of the Specialist Certificate: Legal (SC:L) of the Registry for Interpreters of the Deaf (RID). However, the exam for this certificate was placed under a moratorium by the RID. Demonstration of skill can also qualify one for work in a federal court.

There are various other certifications that ASL interpreters can obtain to demonstrate their mastery and increase their job prospects. Most of these exams are administered by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the RID. They include certification or registration for interpreting in speech reading, interpreting between deaf people of different native languages, and tactile interpreting for people who are both deaf and blind.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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