Students enrolled in American Sign Language (ASL) schools are educated about communication and culture of the deaf community. Special training and certification are needed by interpreters who need to determine their career goals before choosing a program, which fits their needs.
Selecting an American Sign Language School
There are various options for those seeking ASL training programs and it ranges from certificate level programs to master degree level. Those who seek certification to practice the profession must avoid pursuing a certificate or associate degree program because it will not suffice their need. A majority of professional sign language interpreters complete bachelor degree programs (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – www.bls.gov). Master degree programs are preferred by students who are seeking advanced teaching jobs.
Starting on July 2012, students who are taking the National Interpreter Certification examination to become a certified American Sign Language interpreter through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf need to possess an undergraduate degree in any field, as well as demonstrating American Sign Language proficiency through exams (www.rid.org). American Sign Language students who want to pursue teaching or interpreting need to figure out how well a college or university’s program meets the state and federal requirements for certification.
Apart from the school’s curriculum, the extracurricular studies and seminars relevant to the program must be considered by candidates. The majority of American Sign Language programs offer opportunities to study abroad, seminars, lectures, performances, and film screenings.
Overview of American Sign Language Program
ASL Associate Degree
Students who want to prepare themselves in becoming an interpreter cannot depend solely on the associate degree program, but the undergraduate options do offer an introduction to American Sign Language and deaf community. Individuals who want to add American Sign Language skills to other existing professional qualifications or has an interest in ASL should pursue an associate degree program. It takes approximately two years to complete coursework and includes basic academic requirements. A General Educational Development (GED) certificate or high school diploma is needed for entry, and several programs expect applicants to have some sort of knowledge in American Sign Language.
ASL Bachelor Degree
American Sign Language is available as both a minor and major at the undergraduate level of study. Several programs offer interpreting training, but some do not. Those who want to graduate will need to take the National Interpreter Certification examination and complete a practicum. The classes teach students about conversational ASL, language development, deaf education, and fingerspelling.
ASL Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
Students who want to enroll in post-baccalaureate courses should possess an undergraduate degree and have an interest in learning about American Sign Language. Individuals need to consider a program’s specialty; some programs concentrate on culture and language, while others specifically focus on teaching interpretation. Prior knowledge of American Sign Language is not always mandatory for admission. It takes approximately two years for students to earn a certificate.