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A Career in Interpreting
If you find languages fascinating, if you are intrigued by cultural differences, if you are looking for a job that is anything but routine, sign language interpreting may be for you!

ISLR provides information regarding a career in interpreting through this on-line format as well as a printed career packet. The information on this site and at the related links explains aspects of a career as a sign language interpreter, including training and credentials, terminology, and resources.

Becoming an Interpreter

Sign Language Interpreting - A Career Worth Exploring

Getting Started from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Discover Interpreting

How Do I Become a Sign Language Interpreter from the National Association of the Deaf

Interpreter for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing from the National Clearinghouse for Professionals in Special Education

Interpreter Training Programs

Interpreter Training Programs in Ohio

Searchable Database of Interpreter Training Programs in the U.S. and Canada

Resources about Interpreting

Book Recommendations for exploring a career in interpreting

Glossary of specialized terminology related to interpreting and the Deaf community

Professional Sign Language Interpreting from RID - View with Adobe Reader
Standard practice paper about the profession published by RID

Interpreting in Educational Settings (K-12) from RID - View with Adobe Reader
Standard practice paper about interpreting in K-12 educational settings

NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct
Principles of ethical behavior to protect and guide interpreters and consumers

Interpreting & Deafness Organizations

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID)
The national professional organization for sign language interpreters in the U.S.

Ohio Chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (OCRID)
The professional organization for interpreters in Ohio

National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
Advocacy organization by and for Deaf people in the U.S.

Ohio Association of the Deaf (OAD)
Advocacy organization by and for Deaf people in Ohio

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 Sign Language Interpreting - A Career Worth Exploring

Classroom interpretingSign language interpreting can be a very rewarding career. Interpreters facilitate communication between Deaf people and people who can hear. They have opportunities to meet people from all walks of life and experience a vast array of work environments from schools to hospitals to board rooms to theatres to synagogues. Interpreters can be self-employed or they may be hired as staff at a business or public agency. Interpreters can be generalists, working in a variety of settings on a regular basis, or they can be specialists, working in only a single setting, such as schools.

A career in interpreting is not for everyone. It requires a great deal of knowledge, an appreciation of cultural differences, and tremendous language abilities. Interpreters must have excellent decision-making skills, as well as well-developed interpersonal skills and an ability to concentrate. Most importantly, being a successful interpreter requires the ability to adapt to change quickly and deal with the unexpected.

If you would like more information or would like to speak with an experienced interpreter, contact us.

 Book Recommendations
Exploring a Career in Interpreting

So You Want to Be an Interpreter? An Introduction to Sign Language Interpreting
By Janice H. Humphrey and Bob J. Alcorn, 1995
This book is an easy-to-read introduction to the field. It includes information on the interpreting process, history, trends and issues in the field, sign language varieties, cultural considerations, ethics, and the job market.

Sign Language Interpreting: A Basic Resource Book (Revised Edition)
By Sharon Neumann Solow, 2000

A basic introduction to the field of interpreting, including the role of the interpreter, sign language systems, an orientation to the Deaf community, ethics, and interpreting in various settings.

A Journey into the Deaf-World
By Harlan Lane, Robert Hoffmeister, and Ben Bahan, 1996
This book includes a description of American Deaf culture through the eyes of a Deaf person, a hearing person and a hearing child with Deaf parents. Each section includes a narrative scene at a Deaf club addressing the topics to be discussed. The book presents information on American Sign Language, hearing people's views of Deaf people, and issues of education and parenting.

Deaf In America: Voices from a Culture
By Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, 1998
This book presents Deaf culture through the eyes of two Deaf adults. It includes information on the experience of being Deaf, the Deaf worldview, developing a Deaf identity, Deaf people's views of themselves, and some Deaf history.

Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World
By Leah Hager Cohen, 1994
A view of the Deaf community from a hearing child who grew up at a Deaf school where her father was the Superintendent as she moves in the Deaf world as a child and later as an adult and an interpreter. This work of non-fiction reads like a novel.

You can borrow these books through interlibrary loan from your local public library. You can also purchase these books from many retailers which can be easily found through an internet search for the title.

Exploring a Career in Interpreting

Every profession involves specialized terminology. This glossary will introduce you to many terms you may encounter when you read about interpreting and the Deaf community.

AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE (ASL): the language of the American Deaf community; it is often described as a visual-gestural language with a grammar, culture, and vocabulary distinct from English and other signed languages. ASL is also used by deaf people in some parts of Canada.

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA): a federal law, passed in 1990, which required improvements in accessibility for all people with disabilities including deaf people; it is sometimes referred to as a civil rights act for people with disabilities.

ASSOCIATE LICENSE: license from the Ohio Department of Education required for interpreters working in pre-K-12 public schools in Ohio.

CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME: a wrist injury that may occur as a result of repetitive movement or improper positioning of the wrist during movement; a potential job hazard for sign language interpreters (see Repetitive Motion Disorders).

CERTIFIED: a term used to describe an interpreter who has passed a national proficiency (skills) test.

CODE OF ETHICS: a guide for professional conduct that interpreters agree to follow.

CUED LANGUAGE/CUED SPEECH: a system used to visually represent speech sounds, especially those that are most difficult to lipread, with a series of handshapes around the mouth and throat. Cued speech is used less often than sign language.

DEAF: 1) a term often used to refer to those who have significant difficulty hearing; determined by a hearing test 2) a term used to refer to the community of people who have some degree of hearing loss, claim American Sign Language as their primary/native language, and share a common experience/culture (values, beliefs, traditions, norms); determined by behavior and association.
*Note that when this term is used by people who are not deaf, it is generally according to the first definition listed here, however, when deaf people use the term it is generally according to the second definition. Note also that you will see this term used with either a lower-case or an upper-case "d" when in print. The upper-case version is reserved for reference to the community of people who share a common cultural experience, while the lower-case version is used for reference to those who simply experience a hearing loss.

DEAF-BLIND: a term used to refer to those individuals who have difficulty both seeing and hearing.

FINGERSPELLING: using signs that represent the letters of the alphabet to spell out words. Fluent signers typically fingerspell words as whole units rather than letter by letter, that is, the letters flow rapidly and smoothly from one to the other without notable pausing.

FREELANCE: a term used to refer to interpreters who are self-employed. Freelance interpreters negotiate all their own work and do all their own billing; hours are variable and they have no benefits.

HEARING: a term used to refer to people who are not deaf, who have no difficulty hearing. Deaf people most commonly use this term.

HEARING IMPAIRED: a term used by some people who are not deaf to refer to individuals with a hearing loss. Most deaf people do not use this label for themselves because of the negative connotation of the word "impaired."

HARD OF HEARING: 1) a term used by people who are not deaf to refer to those who have some difficulty hearing, determined by a hearing test; 2) a term used by members of the deaf community to refer to individuals who have some difficulty hearing but do not share the deaf cultural experience; determined by behavior and association.

INTERPRET: to change a message from one language to another including all the meanings and intentions of each language.

INTERPRETER: a term used to identify an individual who interprets; this term may also be used generically to include those who transliterate (see transliterate).

INTERPRETER TRAINING PROGRAM (ITP)/INTERPRETER PREPARATION PROGRAM (IPP)/INTERPRETER EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP): terms used interchangeably to refer to programs at the college level where individuals complete a prescribed set of courses prior to beginning a career as an interpreter.

LIPREAD: to rely on the visible movements of the mouth, tongue and throat to receive a spoken message; sometimes also referred to as speechreading. Lipreading also requires extensive world knowledge, knowledge of the context, knowledge of the subject, and knowledge of the language to be effective.

MANUALLY CODED ENGLISH (MCE): a term used to refer to a number of sign language systems that attempt to visually represent English by using its grammar and created or modified signs to represent English vocabulary; includes Signing Exact English (SEE) and Pidgin Signed English (PSE).

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF (NAD): a national advocacy organization for individuals who are interested in the issues faced by the American Deaf community. NAD has local organizations in each state. In Ohio, the local chapter is the Ohio Association of the Deaf (OAD).

PIDGIN SIGNED ENGLISH (PSE): a term often used to refer to signing that occurs when deaf people and people who are not deaf interact; PSE uses ASL vocabulary in English word order. This is also sometimes referred to as contact signing.

QUALIFIED INTERPRETER: a term used to attest to an interpreter's skills and abilities; it has been defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as "able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially." Use of this term may or may not be based on any actual measurement of skills.

REGISTRY OF INTERPRETERS FOR THE DEAF (RID): a national professional organization and certifying body for interpreters and those interested in the sign language interpreting profession. RID has affiliate chapters in each state. Ohio's chapter is the Ohio Chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (OCRID).

RELAY SERVICES: service available in every state for deaf people (using a form of visually accessible technology) and hearing people (using a regular telephone) to communicate. Deaf people may use TTYs (see TTY) or video connections over the computer (see video relay interpreting) to utilize relay services. In each case, an operator or an interpreter relays the message from one person to the other.

REPETITIVE MOTION DISORDERS: a general term for several conditions that can result from using a set of muscles repeatedly or incorrectly, especially resulting from repetitive movements of the hands and arms; repetitive motion disorders are potential job hazards for sign language interpreters.

SIGNING EXACT ENGLISH (SEE): a manual code for representing spoken English that follows English grammar and uses invented or modified signs to represent English vocabulary; SEE was developed in an effort to improve Deaf students' English language skills.

SIGN-TO-VOICE INTERPRETING (S-V): interpreting from a signed language into a spoken language.

SOURCE LANGUAGE: the language in which the original message is conveyed.

TARGET LANGUAGE: the language in which the interpreted message is conveyed.

Team interpretingTEAM INTERPRETING:two or more interpreters working together to provide an interpretation. Each interpreter takes a turn actively interpreting while the other interpreter(s) support the active interpreter by prompting with any missed information, corrections or suggestions.

TTY (Teletypewriter): a machine that allows typed messages to be sent and received across phone lines; a TTY is needed on both ends of the line for successful communication. A modern TTY is very much like a modem with an attached keyboard and a small, single line screen for viewing messages. TTY is also sometimes referred to as TDD (telecommunication device for the deaf).

TRANSLITERATE: the act of changing a message from one form of a language to another form of the same language; in the field of sign language interpreting, this most commonly refers to changing spoken English into a visual form of English (see Manually Coded English, Pidgeon Signed English, Signing Exact English, and lipreading).

TRANSLITERATOR: a technical term use to refer to those who transliterate; transliterators are commonly referred to more generically as interpreters.

VIDEO RELAY INTERPRETING: service where a deaf person and a hearing person in different locations can communicate with each other using a computer connection and a telephone respectively. An interpreter relays a message to and from a Deaf person on a video computer connection and a hearing person on a regular telephone (See relay services).

VOICE-TO-SIGN INTERPRETING (V-S): interpreting from a spoken language into a signed language.

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