Sign Language Interpretation Degrees for Online Students

It's an often overlooked profession, but plenty of benefits accompany sign language interpretation degrees. Businesses and organizations look for ways to communicate with special needs groups, and the deaf community is rather underrepresented due to a lack of professional interpreters in this field. Colleges have worked to provide an answer to this growing trend by adding online programs. These degrees teach students about the deaf community, including culture, language and interpretation. Upon completion of online courses, students can take sign language exams to become an interpreter. Online programs offer even more benefits to students because you can complete courses and become certified in less time than a traditional campus degree. Here's how to become certified in this specialized area.

Getting Started

Sign language interpretation degrees are offered online as Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Arts degree programs. The courses are geared towards understanding interpretation techniques, as well as understanding history, policies, attitudes and nuances within the deaf community. Courses taught online in this field will frequently require video lectures so that you can see different techniques and respond to teachers, so it's important that you do have the time to view these lectures and participate, as well as possessing computer functionality to handle these online programs.

Curriculum Information

Even though the online programs may be accelerated, they are not easy. Students must complete progressively difficult sign language courses, including American Sign Language I through IV, as well as linguistic principles of ASL, fingerspelling and number use, sign to voice, interpreting principles, transliterating, interactive interpreting and medical terminology, among other topics. Students will be required to log in several times a week to meet with teachers and peers, recording assignments on video, and attending video lectures, which are hosted online. Typically these classes take under a year for associate's and up to two or more years for bachelor's degrees.

Becoming Certified

In addition, courses will focus on passing the certification exam, as this is a major requirement in order to work as an interpreter. To pass the exam, you will need to be advanced in your sign language and fingerspelling techniques. You'll have to pass a written and multiple choice test as well as a portion for demonstration, showing that you completely understand the field and are able to perform different techniques. If you do pass, you'll gain ASL certification, which allows to work as an interpreter.

Schools Offering Online Programs

University of North Colorado probably has the most innovative program for sign language students with a "DOIT" system, or Distance Opportunities for Interpreter Training. The classes provide substantial practice and understanding of the field. This is a four-year bachelor degree program from UNC. Other colleges that offer this program include Oakland Community College, Spartanburg Community College, and Phoenix College.