"American Sign Language is a visually perceived language based on a naturally evolved system of articulated hand gestures and their placement relative to the body, along with non-manual markers such as facial expressions, head movements, shoulder raises, mouth morphemes, etc.." --William Vicars, 2007
The American Sign Language interpretation program leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree and prepares graduates for educational ASL interpreting positions, particularly in the educational setting. ASL interpreters enable communication between hearing individuals and deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.
The program offers extensive coursework in American Sign Language, training in interpreting practices, ethics and theory and first-hand interpreting experience through a practicum supervised by a professional interpreter. An on campus ASL lab provides for further practice of ASL skills and use of a variety of ASL support materials.
There are many opportunities for people entering the profession of Sign Language Interpreter. Currently there is a high demand for skilled and certified interpreters in both Ohio and West Virginia. The goal of the Sign Language interpreter is to make the communication experience as complete as possible for both hearing and D/deaf or Hard-of-Hearing participants. To successfully accomplish this, interpreters must accurately relay the meaning of the messages being presented, including the nuances of feelings and attitudes conveyed by the participants, either in spoken English or American Sign Language (ASL) or other types of signed communication. Thus, interpreters must be bilingual, and skilled in both English and ASL.
The shortage of qualified interpreters affects D/deaf people of all ages, in school and at work. College students struggle to find qualified interpreters for their courses; mainstreamed deaf children often have poor quality interpreters or no interpreter and deaf people working in the hearing world sometimes have to go without an interpreter when one is needed for important meetings or conferences.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that reasonable accommodation be available for these students, workers, and clients. However, if qualified interpreters are not available these accommodations cannot be met.
Earnings and salaries vary depending on skill level, experience, certification, education, and many other character factors and vary depending on work availability. Freelance interpreting differs from other kinds of translators in that freelancers are usually contracted out at an hourly rate.
Employment opportunities may be in full-time/part-time employment, or independently contracted with agencies to provide interpreter services. Many of these employment opportunities can be combined to maximize your earning potential.
Graduates of the program will be able to:
- Demonstrate accurate, American Sign Language skills using vocabulary and sentence structure necessary to support educational interpreter skills.
- Demonstrate skills with fingerspelling and numbers.
- Demonstrate American Sign Language conversational skills.
- Voice interpret, at an entry level, American Sign Language to English, as well as various English sign varieties to English.
- Transliterate, at an entry level, spoken English into various types of English-related signs.
- Comprehend, sign, and interpret entry-level medical, educational, legal terminology, and other technical vocabulary.
- Articulate differences among American Sign Language and other varieties of English sign.
- Explain a variety of aspects of Deaf Culture.
- Explain the history of interpreting.
- Explain the ethics associated with interpreting, as well as the rights of deaf people in the United States.
- Demonstrate professional demeanor and values.
- Demonstrate knowledge of environmental effects while interpreting.
- Demonstrate the skills and knowledge expected of an educational interpreter.
Work settings include, but are not limited to:
- Colleges and Universities
- Community Hearing and Speech Agencies
- Consumer Associations
- Government Agencies
- Health Departments
- Hospitals and Clinics
- Industry and Businesses
- Legal Settings
- Mental Health Clinics
- Private Practices
- Private and State Schools
- Public School Systems
- Referral Agencies
- Rehabilitation Centers
- Research Centers
- Social Service Agencies
Course listings with descriptions of each class may be found in the Washington State Community College Catalog.
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