American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting is a field which requires an extensive knowledge of ASL signs and the manual or sign language alphabet. The aspiring interpreter needs a thorough grasp of ASL grammar, syntax and other non-verbal elements to effectively communicate via this complex visual/spatial medium.
In short, to succeed as an ASL interpreter, a signer must develop near-native sign language skills. And while this generally takes several years to achieve, ASL interpreting is a field that is highly rewarding. If you would like to learn sign language and eventually move on to ASL interpreting, the following steps should help you pursue your goal:
- Understand the requirements/responsibilities of ASL interpreting.
- Gain a working knowledge of American Sign Language through ASL classes or private lessons.
- Study Deaf History, Culture and Community in the US.
- Connect and interact with the Deaf Community in your locale.
- Enroll in an ASL Interpreting Program and earn your degree or certificate.
Find the details of becoming an American Sign Language interpreterMany websites offer guidance to those considering learning sign language and entering the world of ASL interpreting. Such sites give you a realistic picture of what you can expect and what will be expected of you as an ASL interpreter.
Gain competency in signing and fingerspellingOnce you've enrolled in an ASL class at your local community college or university or begun private lessons, you'll need as many tools as possible to help you hone your signing skills. Widely-available online tools can help you practice and perfect your ASL skills to reinforce your sign language studies.
ASL browser is another popular online ASL dictionary with videotaped signs.
Immerse yourself in American Sign Language and deaf cultureRegularly place yourself into situations which expose you to ASL in action. Attend Deaf socials and other community activities held by local Deaf clubs; here, you'll not only watch Deaf people sign and improve your receptive skills, but you'll also interact one-on-one with the Deaf and improve your expressive signing skills as well. Purchase or borrow instructional materials that teach and demonstrate ASL principles, and frequently view videotaped ASL speeches, songs, interviews, conversations and lessons.
Locate the best program where you can study sign language interpretingOnce you've become fairly fluent in sign language, you'll want to move on to ASL interpreter training. Interpreter training programs exhaustively prepare you for the rigorous requirements of ASL interpreting.
- If you're interested in learning sign language but aren't sure whether you'll want to go into interpreting, start out with a single ASL class at your local community college. That will give you a better idea of whether your interest is strong enough to continue your studies.