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What is an interpreter?

Sign Language/spoken English interpreters are highly skilled professionals that facilitate communication between hearing individuals and the Deaf or hard-of-hearing. They are a crucial communication tool utilized by all people involved in a communication setting. Interpreters must be able to listen to another person’s words, inflections and intent and simultaneously render them into the visual language of signs using the mode of communication preferred by the deaf consumer. The interpreter must also be able to comprehend the signs, inflections and intent of the deaf consumer and simultaneously speak them in articulate, appropriate English. They must understand the cultures in which they work and apply that knowledge to promote effective cross-cultural communications.

What is a Certified Deaf Interpreter?

A certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) is an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing and has been verified by the Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf as an interpreter.  In addition to excellent general communication skills, and general interpreter training, the CDI may also have specialized training and/or experience in use of gesture, mime, props, drawings and other tools to enhance communication.  The CDI has an extensive knowledge and understanding of deafness, the deaf community and/or Deaf culture which combined with excellent communication skills can bring added expertise into both routine and uniquely difficult interpreting situations.  

What is American Sign Language?

Sign language is no more universal than spoken languages. American Sign Language (ASL) is the language used by a majority of people in the Deaf community in the United States, most of Canada (LSQ is used in Quebec), certain Caribbean countries and areas of Mexico. Other areas of the world use their own sign languages, such as England (British Sign Language) and Australia (Australian Sign Language). American Sign Language (ASL) is a distinct visual-gestural-kinesthetic language. While it borrows elements from spoken English and old French sign language, it has unique grammatical, lexical and linguistic features of its own. It is not English on the hands.  Because ASL is not English, educators have been developed a number of signed codes which use ASL vocabulary items, modify them to match English vocabulary, and put them together according to  English grammatical rules.  These codes have various names including Signed Exact English (SEE) and Manual Coded English (MCE).  Additionally, when native speakers of English and native users of ASL try to communicate, the "language"  that results in a mixture of both English and ASL vocabulary and grammar.  This is referred to as PSE (Pidgin Signed English) or contact signing.  

How long does it take to become fluent?

How long does it take to become fluent in Japanese, Russian or any other foreign language?  Language fluency, be it spoken or visual, requires time, dedication, study, immersion in the language community, and constant practice.  While you may have the potential to handle communication of simple concepts of daily life after just three classes, it will most likely take you years to be comfortably fluent in native conversations at normal rates discussing complex topics.

Take Classes In Sign Language

Perspectives Corporation
ASL Academy
Rhode Island College
Brown University

ASL Interpreter Training Programs

Framingham State University 
Gallaudet University 
Northeastern University 
University of New Hampshire 
University of Southern Maine   
National Technical Institute for the Deaf 
Road to Deaf Interpreter Training  ~ Training for Deaf individuals to become Deaf Interpreters
Tuition Break

​​General information from RID 

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