TerpTopics: INTERPRETER EDUCATION PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Introduction to ASL and Sign Language Interpreting

 

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Opportunities for interpreter education and professional development are available from a variety of sources and providers, at various locations and venues.  Use this overview as a place from which to launch research that is personalized to your background, knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, and goals.

For a discussion about how to become a professional ASL interpreter click here (also see RID's comments).

In our experience, the quality of most education and professional development presenters and content is good.  Some are better than others, and some are outright spectacular.  As you participate in them, remember to do a little networking about how to get the biggest bang for your buck.  Find out what others think, what happened to them, how they would advise others, and then make a choice and go for it!

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Dr. Tuccelli's "Silent Weekend"
is an outstanding professional development resource.
.
To learn more, click the image.

www.DrSign.com  World's Largest SILENT WEEKEND


 

College and University

Colleges or universities are the obvious choice if you have the resources to support yourself for two-to-four years while attending school full-time.  Graduates receive a certificate or degree in interpreting and typically have success in securing immediate employment.

Interpreter Training Program (ITP) developers have done the work of assembling information and guidance into a nice, logical academic package.  Unfortunately, most of us do not live near a school that offers an ITP or other certificate/degree in interpreting.   The folks at Multi-Lingual Books have put together a list of interpreter programs.  The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) has a searchable database of interpreter programs in the U.S. and Canada.  Dr. Wilcox maintains a list here of Universities accepting ASL as a foreign language.  Of particular note is Northeastern University's Master of Education Interpreting Pedagogy (M.Ed-IE) offered through its College of Professional Studies (they say it's the only degree of its kind in the U.S.).

Consider the following:

How long has the ITP been in place?
Are instructors members of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT)?
What percentage of graduates is currently employed as Certified interpreters?
Does faculty include deaf instructors?  Certified instructors?
Does the ITP offer a 2- or 4-year program?
Is training available for specialized settings (medical; judiciary; educational; etc.)?
Does the program include an internship component?
Can you contact alumni?
Is mentoring or other support offered after program completion?
                                         

Take a Class:

take an interpreting class to see if it's for you
some interpreting classes are for-credit; some are non-credit courses
  Example: Portland Community College

take an ASL class to see if it's for you
some ASL classes are for-credit; some are non-credit courses
  Example: Palm Beach Community College

Internship

Generally, an intern works within limited circumstances as prescribed by a sponsor or employer.  One purpose of internships is to enable budding professional to practice and sharpen skills, to transition into the workforce, and to work under the supervision of accomplished professionals.  Interns gain experience and the likelihood of problems is limited.

Interns earn reduced, little, or no pay (most often no pay).  However, they and future consumers of their services benefit immensely from the interns having received real-world experience, direction, and guidance.

Internships are available through a variety of outlets.  Here are are a few examples, to get you started:

                
Interpreter Referral Agencies

Employers that have interpreters on-staff
  Example: University of Rochester Medical Center

Video Relay Service (VRS) providers
  Example: Sorenson VRS

Universities
  Example: Boston University

Tutoring

Whether seasoned or novice, many signers and interpreters seek one-on-one or small-group tutoring for intensive learning and skills development.  But, where to look?  Resources for tutoring services or referrals include: ASL teachers; local Deaf clubs; interpreting professionals; interpreting agencies.

Professional Services
  Example: HardCoreASL.com
  Example: Cathy's Tutoring Service
                                                                    

Area Deaf Clubs
  Example: National Association of the Deaf - State Organizations

ASL Teachers
  Example: ASL Teachers Association (ASLTA)

 


Conferences

Membership Organizations

  Examples of professional organizations that regularly conduct conferences:
  Medical Interpreters
  RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf)
  WASLI (World Association of Sign Language Interpreters)

Commercial or Not-For- and Non-Profit

  Examples of privately sponsored conferences:
  "World's Largest Silent Weekend"
  Florida Dept. of Ed: Educational Interpreters Summer Institute

   Coursework

Interpreter Training Program (ITP)

organized program of study
offers diploma or certificate of completion - visit MultiLingualBooks.com to view a list they compiled of U.S. ITPs

In A Classroom

take an interpreting class to see if it's for you
some interpreting classes are for-credit; some are non-credit courses
  Example: Portland Community College

Online

take an interpreting class to see if it's for you
some interpreting classes are for-credit; some are non-credit courses
  Example: University of Colorado DO-IT Center

   Credentials

National Certification
  NAD-RID NIC (National Interpreter Certification)

State Credential
  Example: FRID Quality Assurance Screening (Florida RID)

Licensure

In the United States, trade and professional licenses are mandated and administered at the state level.  Not every state offers or requires licensure of sign language interpreters.  The University of Northern Colorado has compiled a reference list of general licensure laws by state.

The practice of licensing interpreters is controversial.  Some feel licensure is a good thing, conferring professional status upon licensed individuals.  Others feel it is simply another way for states (and interpreter testing and oversight organizations) to generate revenue.  Still others are primarily interested in the consistency of standards and practice, which they feel licensure puts into place.  For this last group, any other considerations come second.

Mentoring

There may be equally valuable opportunities for professional development, but none better than working with a mentor.  Choice of a mentor is not a matter to be treated lightly.  Good mentors can support you in boosting your professional development, help to keep your focus on-track, provide feedback, and fill in the blanks with tweaks and details that, while small, can make a world of difference.   On the other hand, inadequate or bad mentors can waste your time (and theirs); even cause problems where none existed.

Click here now to visit the TerpTopics MENTORING page.

Good mentors and mentoring relationships offer good benefits (incredible mentors, incredible benefits!).  

Here are a few of the goodies to be gleaned:

advice that is targeted, specific, clear, direct, timely
a safe place to go when feeling vulnerable
a person who will celebrate your successes with you
wisdom and experience generously shared
a confidential forum
efficient access or direction to sound information and resources
the politics of the profession are put aside
opportunity to come away with a friend for life

Practice

You might think it silly to include practice as a professional development tool.  Some of us worry and fret over not making satisfying professional progress and forget that practice makes perfect.  Novice and seasoned professionals benefit from practice.

Opportunities for practice are only as limited as your imagination; here are a few (visit the Practice Pages for more!):

make a video of yourself, then watch it
make a video of yourself, then ask someone else to interpret it
visit a local deaf club (start here), silent social, or silent supper 
interpret vlogs (find many of them here);
increase speed by interpreting TV network evening news (160-175 wpm)
mentally interpret what you hear on the radio

Qualifications

Refer to the Qualified Interpreter page for a discussion of qualifications.

Study

You might think it silly to include study as a professional development tool.  Some of us think that we don't have to study any longer because we completed a program, passed a test, or secured employment.  Ha.  Novice and seasoned professionals benefit from study.

Opportunities for study are only as limited as your imagination; here are a few:

review materials received at workshops previously attended
re-read textbooks and workbooks
regularly increase your vocabulary (English and ASL)
deep-analyze sign choices used by VLoggers
use the models to deep-analyze your production, then try it again

Training

On-the-Job

Community Organizations
                                                                

Workshops

College and University

Community Organizations

Conference

 


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Links

link Books

link National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers

link Videos and DVDs

link Movies

link Gifts

link Practice Pages

 

 

 

This page was edited: 09/19/2009
This page has been visited Hit Counter times since:
October 2008.
TerpTopics is a trademark and service mark of TerpTopics, LLC. © 2008; 2009. All rights reserved.

TerpTopics™ is an independent entity; as such does not claim or attempt to claim, represent, or imply by any means whatsoever that it is associated with any other entity that may or may not offer services, goods, or information of interest to interpreter, Deaf, or student communities.  The opinions expressed here those of TerpTopics unless otherwise stated.  Please keep in mind that, while every effort is made to present correct, appropriate, and reasonable information that is based on our experience, anecdotal experiences of others, or developed during the general course of study and professional development, we do not represent TerpTopics as having cornered the market on wisdom (heck, no!) or experience; one reason why links to several other good and reliable resources are made available throughout this site, and we hope that earnest seekers of knowledge will take advantage of them.

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Books, books, and MORE books!

So many books;
so little time ...
Why waste it?
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Movies, movies, and MORE movies!!

Discover films of interest to ASL or interpreting students here.

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Gifts, goodies, and prezzies!  Shop 'til you drop!!  =)

Did someone say
self-indulgence?
YUP!
Click here now!
;)
.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

Books, books, and MORE books!

So many books;
so little time ...
Why waste it?
Click here now.

.

.

.

.

 

Movies, movies, and MORE movies!!

Discover films of interest to ASL or interpreting students here.

.

.

.

.