ASL Interpreting Career Spotlight: Educational Interpreting

William Woods ASL

ASL educational interpreter in the classroom

A child’s understanding in the classroom is fundamental to his or her success. For Deaf and hard of hearing students attending a school with mostly hearing students, American Sign Language interpreters make the difference.

Pepnet 2 — a federally funded project aimed at increasing the education, career and lifetime choices available to Deaf or hard of hearing gives a definition of educational interpreting: “Simply stated, the role of the interpreter in the classroom is to faithfully convey the spirit and content of the communication occurring in the classroom.”

“The interpreter’s job does not start and end in the classroom. The interpreter must become familiar with the course content that will be discussed — a task that may involve additional research on topic-related words and phrases — and the signs needed to convey them.”

In addition to grasping lesson content, classroom interpreters have other various duties. According to the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Standard Practice Paper, some of these responsibilities include:

  • Working with the educational team to create and maintain an inclusive environment
  • Interpreting or transliterating in a mode that reflects the student’s language use, as outlined in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Working with the classroom teacher to adapt classroom/school activities to promote participation of deaf or hard of hearing individuals
  • Modeling social strategies to encourage interaction between individuals who use sign language and those who do not
  • Ensuring incidental information is interpreted
  • Interpreting in educational environments outside of the classroom, including speech therapy and other related services, field trips, club meetings, athletic practices and competitions, and extracurricular activities
  • And more

William Woods University ASL Interpreting students interested in educational interpreting may take additional coursework to get a stronger understanding of the classroom environment, including various education courses. All bachelor’s interpreting students can also choose from several elective courses, including Child Development and Behavior and Educational Psychology.

According to the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s Skill Level Standards Rule, interpreters who want to provide interpreting services in classrooms must be certified at the Comprehensive, Advanced, or Intermediate level, or they must hold either a Restricted Certification in Education (RCED) or a Provisional Certificate in Education (PCED). There are three RCED certifications: general, for grades K-6, or 7-12.

Your advisor and ASL instructors are great resources to help you figure out which certifications are best for you, and ensure you fulfill all of the requirements you need.

William Woods interpreting alumni can be found working in schools across Missouri and the country, including the Missouri School for the Deaf, Saint Joseph School District and North Dakota School for the Deaf.