American Sign Language (ASL) is the predominantly used language in the US and many parts of Canada. Around half a million people use this language regularly. With the increased usage, American Sign Language has been accepted as an academic necessity and a professional degree in the US. Though ASL is not a universally accepted language, it’s the primary medium of communication for the deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals around the US and Canada.
What is ASL?
ASL is a visual language used by people with hearing impairment. This is a natural language that is completely separate from English but has all the linguistic properties of other spoken languages. It includes all essential features, like pronunciation, formation of words, and work order. ASL follows a different set of dialects when compared to English. They also follow a grammar that tends to be different from English.
Unlike in English, when we ask a question, we raise the pitch of our voice or adjust the word order. But when ASL users ask questions, they tend to raise their eyebrows, widen their eyes, or even tilt their heads or bodies. Thus, ASL uses hands and body gestures as expressions, making communication quicker.
Benefits of ASL interpretations
Communication with hard-of-hearing people
Approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Thus, learning ASL opens a better communication window for people in the USA and Canada.
On a typical day, people find it challenging to communicate with deaf people at critical times (hospital, school, court). Times like this call for an ASL interpreter. If there is an in-house person who speaks the language, it comes as an added advantage.
Imagine having a close one in the family who is hard of hearing or having grandparents whose hearing is impacted with age; learning simple sign language can aid in building a better bond between them. Like a mother discovering the language to communicate with her kids, grandkids learn ASL to share with the elderly.
Spatial reasoning is the cognitive skill of learning. Learning sign language has an enormous impact on your creative skills. People with sign language knowledge considerably understand the visual environment.
People with knowledge of sign language get this incredible power of three-dimensional thinking and can be creative-minded. Growing research indicates that learning sign language from a young age could have several cognitive benefits as they grow up.
As per the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Affordable Care Act of 2010, it’s mandatory that all businesses that receive Federal funds should be fully accessible to people with hearing impairments.
Industries that need ASL interpreters
Healthcare/ Medical Services
According to the law, all hospitals and healthcare providers in the US should provide ASL interpreters for hard-of-hearing patients and deaf individuals accompanying a hearing patient. Any small miscommunication can lead to inadequate patient care, thereby creating damage claims for physicians. Thus, for effective and timely diagnosis, ASL interpreters are required.
Government Services and Public Schools
Title II of the ADA requires all state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals by including ASL interpreters.
It’s mandatory that all public schools have ASL interpreters to clarify and engage the deaf and hard-of-hearing students. They are mere assistant teachers or associates who convey information professionally to the hearing impaired.
Business negotiation can happen anywhere, and you can have hearing-impaired negotiators, partners, directors, and shareholders. Mediation requires utmost precision. Incomprehension can worsen your reputation or bond. Hire the most appropriate Sign language Translators for smooth business transitions.
Court Systems/ Legal Services
There is a wide range of court and legal proceedings, both in and out of the courtroom. You need legally trained ASL Interpreters to handle client-attorney conferences, hearings, interviews, or other investigations with various officials. These ASL interpreters should offer timely, accurate, and effortless communication. Anything short of perfection is not an option here for legal services.
E-learning platforms and LMS
Several disabled students depend on various accessibility tools to access their e-learning materials. E-learning is a vast place that touches people with all forms of disabilities. ASL interpretation has set the stage for deaf and hard-of-hearing people to make learning better. With several MNCs and other educational sectors conducting online learning methods, ASL has made the job easier for people with disabilities.
Media and Entertainment Industry
This industry comprises businesses that produce and distribute motion pictures and television programs, including live broadcasts, commercials, radio, games, and publishing. Most of these need ASL interpretations to target a wider audience. Live news, weather reports, sports, and award shows should accommodate interpreters to make their programs accessible to hard-of-hearing people.
The Events Industry
The Events industry started with in-person events. During Covid, it rapidly transformed into virtual events, and now hybrid events have become the new forum. They seamlessly connect live and remote audiences. All these events have been accommodating people with disabilities. ASL and Live Captioning can go hand in hand to absolutely engage the audience and make the event as lively as ever. Also, it’s mandatory by law, as already mentioned.
Who is a qualified ASL Interpreter?
The minimum qualification required is a bachelor’s degree before you begin to take ASL Interpretation as a career. But you need proper certification to become a qualified Interpreter. According to the Nebraska Department of Education, you need to take up one/more of the following assessments.
National Interpreter Certification (NIC)
Test that is jointly given by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Here there are two exams, the Knowledge exam and the Performance Exam, where you are required to take a written test, an interview, and a performance test.
Competency level 4.0
Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA)
Competency level 3.5
Quality Assurance Screening Test (QAST)
Competency level 4.0
Also, each state may have different policies and may require other certifications in order to be an interpreter for the deaf. Remember to concentrate on RID state-by-state regulations closely to know the right policy for the state you work for.
Requisite skills for an ASL Interpreter
Will just knowing sign language make you a qualified interpreter?
Qualified interpreters should be able to interpret impartially, effectively, and accurately to meet the legal requirements for accessibility. Regardless of what language is being interpreted, ASL interpreters should be fluent in the language. Fluency involves being fast enough to understand and reply to the language of deaf people. It’s essential that the interpreters also retain the original information no matter how fast the spoken words are.
They should also be familiar with the content and terminology of the event or session. Not just familiarity, interpreters should never forget to value cultural variation and should follow professional etiquette for advocating the best practices according to the Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf (RID).
There are too many things to consider when hiring an interpreter. The San Antonio College Department of American Sign Language and Interpreter Training has thus compiled the list of essential functions for a sign language interpreter. Some of those functions are classified as essential physical, cognitive, cultural, and linguistic abilities. In addition, they have raised their bar for professional attributes like social perceptiveness, interpersonal relationships, self-control, conflict resolution, and time management, to name a few.
Make extra efforts to communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals because one-third of the population is physically impaired. Let them be included irrespective of their disability.
Other Services from CaptioningStar
CaptioningStar, an end-to-end accessibility provider, has other services like live/CART captioning, translations and subtitling, language interpretations, transcriptions/verbatim print materials, closed captions for pre-recorded videos, and live streaming options for all your pre-recorded content.
Contact us with your requirements, and we will get back to you within 12 hours.