Department of
ASL - English Interpretation

Overview

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of ASL-English Interpretation at Columbia College Chicago! We strive to educate students who will serve as leaders in the field of interpretation, role models within the interpreting community, and advocates of the Deaf and hard‑of‑hearing community.

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Photo by Lindsay Koedyker (BA '13)  

Our department offers three programs: A four-year Bachelor of Arts program in ASL-English Interpretation; a four-year, part-time Bachelor of Arts program in ASL-English Interpretation for those who already have a BA degree; and a minor in ASL Studies that is open to all undergraduate students at Columbia College Chicago.

The faculty members teaching in our department include internationally known performers, distinguished researchers, nationally certified interpreters, and native Deaf signers. Each faculty member has a strong connection to different facets of the professional world—from the local Deaf community to the international stage of interpreter education—and our faculty members take great strides to welcome students into this exciting world. 

The vast majority of graduates from the Department of ASL-English Interpretation are currently working as professionals in the field. Alumni work as freelancers or hold staff positions, interpreting in settings such as corporate/business offices, mental health facilities, classrooms, museums, theatres, hospitals, cruises, and courtrooms, among many other fields. Alumni also hold local, state, and national positions with interpreting organizations, helping to shape the future of this dynamic profession.

If you are considering becoming a sign language interpreter, I encourage you to contact the Department of ASL-English Interpretation for more information, for a tour, or to find out about our current events and activities. We are passionate about the fields of interpretation, Deaf Studies, and ASL, and look forward to sharing our commitment to excellent interpreter education with you.

Diana Gorman Jamrozik
Chairperson, Department of ASL-English Interpretation

Why ASL-English Interpretation?

Interpreting between two languages is a deeply fulfilling and creative profession, requiring keen intelligence and a sensitivity to the smallest nuances in communication. American Sign Language (ASL) is no different. It is a language of complex linguistic structures, and it has a rich history, just like French, English, or any other spoken language. 

The field of American Sign Language interpreting is also rapidly growing, and this growth has created a large need for skilled sign language interpreters. Professional interpreters have opportunities to work in a variety of settings and with diverse populations. In addition to professional skills, interpreters participate in developing research in the fields of linguistics, cultural mediation, translation studies, professional ethical codes, education, and cognitive development. 

Careers in ASL-English Interpretation

More than 85 percent of our graduates find work in the field of sign language interpreting. Interpreters work in consort with professionals in a variety of business, educational, and service professions, and contribute to a growing body of knowledge about interpretation and linguistics. Our graduates have worked in:  

  • Performing arts settings (concerts, theatre)
  • Media arts (television and film)
  • Medical settings (hospitals, doctors offices)
  • Legal settings (courtrooms, police stations)
  • Mental health (group sessions, individual therapy, testing)
  • Educational settings (K-12, college)
  • Business settings (meetings, training sessions)
  • Religious settings (church, weddings, funerals)
  • Telecommunications (video remote interpreting, video relay)

While the high demand for American Sign Language interpreters in the United States affords Columbia graduates an opportunity to find employment throughout the country in many fields, the study of American Sign Language also sets a strong foundation for those interested in further study in the fields of linguistics, education, and the social sciences. 

Learn more about what interpreters can make.  

History of the Department

Established in 1993, the Department of ASL-English Interpretation at Columbia College Chicago became the first in the state of Illinois to offer a Bachelor of Arts in interpretation program. In the spring of 2012, our BA program joined a small number of other BA-granting ASL-English Interpretation programs that have gained accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education.

Our department is home to the only ASL-English Interpretation program in the Chicago Metropolitan area. 


Facilities

  • ASL Lab

    The ASL Lab is a resourse and media center available to all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the interpreting community. Resources include computers, recording devices, more than 500 books on ASL linguistics, deaf studies, and interpretation, and more than 600 ASL-related DVDs and CDs. Students also work with Deaf tutors in the lab.

  • High-Tech Lab

    The High-Tech Lab has a Sony Soloist Language Lab system that can be used for recording ASL, as well as interpreting class work or homework. It features a teacher console for monitoring student progress. The lab is flexible and facilitates a wide variety of courses and students' needs.

  • Low-Tech Lab

    The Low-Tech Lab is an ASL-only environment where students can meet to do homework, work with our Deaf tutors, or read Deafness or ASL-related books from our resource library.

  • Private Lab Studios

    There are four private recording studios available for student use. They can be utilized for recording ASL videos, small group discussions, or ASL tutoring sessions.

The ASL Lab is a resourse and media center available to all students , faculty, staff, alumni, and the interpreting community. Resources include computers, recording devices, more than 500 books on ASL linguistics, deaf studies, and interpretation,  and more than 600 ASL-related DVDs and CDs. Students also work with Deaf tutors in the lab.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of successfully completing the BA program in ASL-English Interpretation, students will be able to:

Understand the Cultural Foundations of the Field of ASL-English Interpretation

  • Recognize the American Deaf community as a linguistic and cultural minority group.
  • Possess an in–depth understanding of the history of the Deaf community and American Deaf culture.
  • Understand what is meant by multiculturalism within the Deaf community and how it effects the interpreting profession.
  • Appreciate diversity in the interpreting profession and apply their insights when working in diverse communities.
  • Define the characteristics of special populations of Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons who require unique communication and interpreting techniques.

 Communicate Proficiently in ASL and English

  • Demonstrate proficiency of use of and comprehension of advanced vocabulary and grammatical features of ASL. 
  • Demonstrate proficiency of use of and comprehension of advanced vocabulary and grammatical features of English.

Understand the Theoretical Foundations of the Field of ASL-English Interpretation

  • Know the history and various theories of spoken language interpreting.
  • Understand various models of sign language interpreting, and compare and contrast those models to the models of spoken language interpreting.
  • Explore the application of practical ethical theories and behaviors crucial to professional interpreters.
  • Understand basic research practices as they relate to the interpreting profession.

Understand the Ethical and Professional Foundations of the Field of ASL-English Interpretation 

  • Understand all tenets of the RID-NAD Code of Professional Conduct, as well as the purposes of those tenets and their functions from both a theoretical and practical point of view, and be able to apply the tenets to interpreting assignments and ethical scenarios.
  • Understand the role of the interpreter and the evolution of that role from a cultural perspective.
  • Be familiar with professional credentialing and laws that pertain to interpreters.
  • Be aware of ethical business practices and familiar with professional interpreting agencies and organizations, as well as Deafness-related organizations.
  • Exhibit professional behaviors while interacting within the Deaf and interpreting communities.

Interpret and Transliterate Routine Discourse

  • Assess a given interpreting assignment and gather necessary information about the assignment before the interpreting event begins.
  • Assess one’s own interpretations and apply adjustments to future interpreting assignments.
  • Understand when various modes of interpreting are appropriate (consecutive, simultaneous, relay, etc.).
  • Interpret dialogic and monologic routine discourse from ASL to English.
  • Interpret dialogic and monologic routine discourse from English to ASL.
  • Transliterate dialogic and monologic routine discourse from an English-based sign system to English.
  • Transliterate dialogic and monologic routine discourse from English to an English-based sign system.
  • Know how to team interpret, work with clients and interpreting agencies, and apply the RID-NAD Code of Professional Conduct to assignments.
  • Learn the importance of life-long learning to skill development.