Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Open The Gate and Let Them IN

I got a facebook message from an old student turned friend yesterday. She wants to become an interpreter. I am so excited because she is awesome! She started my class as a mom wanting to learn some baby sign for her son. That is how it begins. A mom and child come to my class just wanting to get some baby sign. I don't teach "Baby Sign". I teach a second language, Deaf culture and acceptance. My class is so weird to hearing people but not to all.

Off hand I can think of 5 people who have wanted to (in process) or became interpreters after meeting us. This friend wants advice and I was hoping you could help. She is really smart, fast to learn and the perfect candidate for a top notch elementary interpreter. Here is a bit of what she wrote,

"I have decided to go back to school and would like to parlay anything I study into ASL interpreting, perhaps at an elementary level. Can you, when you have time (impossible, right?) give me any thoughts, advice, random weirdness, on classes, marketability, helpful hints, pretty much anything that occurs to you? "

So my thinking is, anything that you offer can help! I love it when the gate opens and hearing and Deaf meet. I am going to email her my advice but please jump in



  1. The best advice I can think of is to meet deaf adults on a regular basis. Go to a church that has a deaf group, join a sports team that competes against a deaf team, volunteer at a school for the deaf and get to know the staff. Ask questions like "what is the difference between (sorry) and (please)?" Find some common interests and share time on them.

    Usually I wouldn't say that to someone who is starting up from "I have spare time and think learning sign language would get me a terrific part-time interpreting job"...but you say this friend has the basics and shows aptitude, so that's a better start.

  2. I had an interpreter tell me I could pass the level 1 test even though I only consider myself conversationally fluent. I work in IT anyway but maybe someday I'll find an ITP cause I am not about to just jump in and mess up some poor kid. It sucks that a lower skill level qualifies you to translate for kids who may be unable to fill in your gaps. I'm in grad school right now so I won't worry about that any time soon.

  3. I'd suggest that she take classes, interact with Deaf kids and adults, and even attempt to go full immersion somewhere somehow if at all possible. If she wants to be involved with educational interpreting I'd suggest that she volunteer at a school to get a feel for what goes on in the classroom, as well as see if she can observe mainstream classrooms with Deaf students to see how the interpreter fits into the classroom.

    I'd say the best place for her to go would be Gallaudet (I'm a student there now hah) - however that may be too far and too much especially if she has a family of her own. But, they may offer some summer programs or something that could provide classes and immersion as well.

  4. That's exciting news:) The first recommendation would indeed be "Gallaudet University." I learned ASL at Gallaudet University and it was the best experience that I have ever had. All of my professors were Deaf and on the campus everyone was signing - though, it was my first time in Washington D.C., it was worth every minute of my time. However, if that's too far to travel for her, there is PCC, Sylvania and Washington State University, where they have interpreting courses.

    I have just recently met a great friend, who is a hearing student, interested in becoming an interpreter up at PCC, and she is going to start the two year interpreting program this fall. Before commencing the program, she first had to take basic ASL and intermediate courses along with a Deaf studies course, and then they interview you for the two year program.

    One of the primary Deaf teacher there is excellent, and she would learn significantly from him and the program. I would think that they would permit her to sit in one of the Interpreting classes, which is a full-time program that goes from Mon. to Friday during the school year.

    In addition, I think PCC would know of interpreters at PCC where she could sit and watch an interpreter interpret for a PCC Deaf college student at any of the PCC campuses.

  5. I just submitted my application to return to school and I'm going to major in ASL. Any advice for me?? I do socialize some with the Deaf community through events I take my kids to at the Deaf Kids and Teens club. I can't wait to be able to socialize without an interpreter.