The major in ASL/English interpretation offers students the unique opportunity to acquire the skills and perspectives necessary to function successfully as linguistic and cultural mediators. The ASL Program enables students to gain a mastery of American Sign Language and thus gain access to the community and culture of Deaf America, as well as gain insights into features of spoken languages that are often taken for granted. Not only does learning a modally different language give students a sense of the power of language, but it enables students to experience firsthand the principles underlying the spatial organization of discourse required by signed languages. This has a profound impact on understanding how language shapes one’s world.
Students in the ASL Program undertake a course of study that provides a firm foundation in language, linguistics, culture, and interpretation. In addition to their interpreting courses students also take a broad-based course of study in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities that provides a solid liberal arts education. While it is not required, many students opt to use their elective courses to pursue a minor in one of the many disciplines in the college. The combination of focused study in language, culture, and broad-based liberal arts education provides students with the cognitive framework and knowledge base needed to function successfully as interpreters.
Employment opportunities for interpreters have increased dramatically, and continue to do so, as a result of state and federal legislation. Graduates completing the interpreting major will be prepared to work as interpreters in a wide range of settings from social service agencies to educational settings. Graduates are also well prepared to take the written portion of the national certification examination for interpreters. In fact, students are encouraged to take this written exam during the second half of their senior year in the Program.