A qualified Sign Language Interpreter is responsible for facilitating communication between consumers that are Deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing by interpreting between English and American Sign Language. Interpreting refers to the process of preserving the meaning from one natural language to another natural language. When we interpret, it involves the unrehearsed, not written (i.e., spoken or signed) conversion of a message from one language (called the source language) to a second language (called the target language). (Department of Linguistics and Interpreting Gallaudet University, 1991) A Sign Language Interpreter must also act as a cultural mediator when working with consumers who are Deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing.
The demand for interpreters allows for a variety of job opportunities, either part-time or full-time. There are a number of settings for a Sign Language Interpreter to find employment such as educational, community, video relay, medical, legal, mental health/psychiatric, religious and performing arts. An Interpreter also has the opportunity to be self-employed and work as an Independent Contractor or a Freelance Interpreter for various companies and/or government agencies. The pay rate for a Sign Language Interpreter will depend on certification level, degrees held, location (urban vs. rural) and years of experience.
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Certified Deaf/Intermediary Interpreter
A certified Deaf interpreter sometimes referred to as an intermediary interpreter is a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing with excellent communication skills, knowledge of Deaf culture and is qualified to interpret. They may have specialized training and usually hold either National (RID/CDI) or State Certification (Texas Intermediary). They are able to successfully use gesture, mime, drawings and other such tools to enhance communication. They often work as a team with an interpreter who can hear to ensure quality communication for all participants.
Deaf or Hard of Hearing individuals that may benefit from a Certified Deaf /Intermediary interpreter may include but are not limited to:
- Individuals that may have minimal or limited communication skills.
- Individuals that use a form of sign language from another country.
- Individuals who have not been formally taught sign language and use a form of home signs or gestures.
- Individuals who are Deaf/Blind.