Phoenix College Campus

ASL Frequently Asked Questions

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

Sign Language/spoken English interpreters are highly skilled professionals. They 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.

Sign language interpreting is a rapidly expanding field. Schools, government agencies, and private businesses employ interpreters. Interpreters work in a variety of settings including medical, legal, religious, mental health, rehabilitation, performing arts, and business. Part-time, full-time, freelance and salaried positions are available in most metropolitan areas across the country.

Sign language interpreting is a rapidly expanding field. Schools, government agencies, and private businesses employ interpreters. Interpreters work in a variety of settings including medical, legal, religious, mental health, rehabilitation, performing arts, and business. Part-time, full-time, freelance and salaried positions are available in most metropolitan areas across the country.

Full time students usually complete the Certificate in Interpreting and the AAS degree in three years.

Students entering Phoenix College and seeking transfer credit for American Sign Language studies are allowed up to 18 credits of approved* SLG coursework. Students seeking to transfer in more than 12 credits must provide a written appeal to the advisors of the IPP program including the following: - a copy of unofficial or official transcripts - course descriptions of courses seeking to be transferred - explanation of why seeking approval of extra credits. It is up to the discretion of the IPP Program Director, Academic Advisors, department Chair, and/or Dean of Instruction if the appeal is approved or denied, and/or approved with a condition of additional course/s. Students receiving approval to transfer in more than 12 credits must be aware that all certificates received from PC must include at least 12 credits of coursework taken at PC to apply towards the certificate.

Students who are interested in becoming interpreters and do not already have a degree are strongly encouraged to pursue the AAS degree. With standards increasing for interpreter qualifications it is in the best interest of the student and their future consumers for them to have a well-rounded background including the general education requirements required for the AAS degree. In addition, students may transfer their AAS to ASU West to continue their education by pursuing a BAS degree.

In many interpreting jobs in school systems, your salary is partly based on your degree. Interpreting is a very complex task and requires a high degree of fluency in two languages.

Applications are due before spring break of each spring semester. Those accepted into the program will begin classes in the following fall semester. See the ASL/IPP Office for an application and an explanation of requirements for applying.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires the provision of qualified interpreters in a variety of settings. It states that "To satisfy this requirement, the interpreter must have the proven ability to effectively communicate..." One important measure of an interpreter's proven ability is professional credentials. Credentials are obtained by taking and passing an assessment of your skills. The National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) provides testing for national certification. Assessments by the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) and other state agencies may also be accepted by employers.

The Certificate and the AAS in interpreting prepare students by providing a foundation for entering the interpreting field. While you are not required to have a college degree in order to take an assessment, the background, skills development and theory learned in a recognized interpreter preparation program are extremely beneficial in getting your national certification. 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.

NO! In this field, if someone is "certified" that means they have passed the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf written and performance tests. We want to stress that finishing our IPP does not guarantee that you will be able to get your certification. Most programs provide you with the knowledge and skills to begin pursuing an interpreting career. Completion of a program is more like a driver's permit that lets you operate in certain protected situations. Continued practice, participation in workshops and training experiences, and work with mentors will help prepare you to earn your certification. For more information, contact your local RID and NAD affiliates, interpreter referral agencies, and sign language or interpreting programs.