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American Sign Language

Phoenix College offers the only Interpreter Preparation Program (IPP) in Maricopa County. The program consists of a variety of courses including American Sign Language (ASL), interpreting classes, Deaf culture, and related coursework.

Students enroll in the program for a variety of reasons including: 

  • to pursue a career in ASL/English interpreting;
  • to communicate with deaf family members or friends; or
  • to earn foreign language transfer credits.

American Sign Language (ASL) is the language used by the majority of deaf people in the United States and much of Canada. It is not a manual code of English but a visual/gestural language which has unique grammatical, lexical, and other linguistic features.

Interpreting is a complex task that requires a high degree of fluency in two languages. Students must become fluent in ASL, and those who become ASL interpreters must use advanced cultural and linguistic knowledge to ensure that communication between parties is natural and effortless.

Eligibility for Licensure

Students who wish to become a certified interpreter must take and pass the written and performance portion of one of the national exams .

Note: As is common with other programs throughout the country, many graduates may pass the written portion of the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf exam upon completion of the program and continue to upgrade their skills for a few years in order to pass the skills portion of the exam.

Transfer Options

Graduates of the ASL/IPP program may continue their education for a Bachelor of Applied Sciences degree at Arizona State University–West. ASU-West offers various areas of emphasis that can be pursued to complement students’ particular interests related to the interpreting field or other fields of study where skills gained through interpreter education may be an asset. Contact the Transfer Center for information.

Career and Employment Outlook

Sign language interpreting is a rapidly expanding field with an increasing demand for qualified interpreters. Public and private agencies, businesses, and schools are often in need of professional interpreters to meet their mandated responsibilities for communication access. Interpreters may work in full-time or part-time positions, or they may do freelance work. Freelance interpreters enjoy flexible hours and a variety of settings including medical, legal, religious, mental health, rehabilitation, performing arts, and business.

For more information, visit  O*NET, which provides detailed information on workers, salaries, expected job growth and characteristics of the occupation.