Degrees offered in Sign Language interpreting

April 6, 2014 (CHICAGO)

Columbia College Chicago has a four-year bachelor degree in American Sign Language interpreting.

Peter Cook is the program's director.

"The first two years are focused on the language acquiring American Sign Language as well as Deaf culture," he said. "If they are deemed qualified they enter the advanced part of the program which includes focusing on interpreting skills consecutive interpreting also linguistics and prepare them for working within the interpreting world.

"Within the end of the program there is practicum which includes pairing students with certified interpreters qualified before they graduate. The graduating class typical is eight to 10 students."

Shelley Engstrom-Kestel is an interpreter, professor and also region representative for RID, Registry of Interpreter.

She says there are different levels of interpreting.

"We have a certification system," she said. "You take your test and you are given a certification you continue you maintain your certification with professional development and there's also an ethical practice system.

"You can't just take two sign language classes and pass the certification exam. you need to have an understanding of linguistic and ability to work with the deaf community, understanding of deaf culture and multiple things before you can decide to go and take the test."

Kate is one of the 200 American Sign Language students in the program.

This is her 3rd year.

"I would like to do music interpreting," she said. "It's really hard to learn to switch from explaining in words in English to showing a concept in American Sign Language. Sign language is not universal. There's definitely a need for more exposure to qualified interpreters."

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