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American Sign Language and Interpreting Program

The right major matters.

The American Sign Language and Interpreting Program (ASLIP) provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to pursue an interpreting career, as well as a foundation to begin preparing for interpreter certification.

Photo of students signing with their instructor.

American Sign Language interpreters are highly-trained professionals who are proficient in the dynamics of human interaction and have an understanding and appreciation of social and cultural differences so they can facilitate communication between people who use two different languages — English and American Sign Language. Interpreting is a complex process that requires a high degree of linguistic, cognitive, and technical skills in both English and American Sign Language.

The American Sign Language and Interpreting Program offers the following undergraduate programs:

As a major or minor in Deaf Studies, you will be taught American Sign Language and Deaf Culture. The program offers you sufficient knowledge, skills, and abilities to interact with, provide services for, and develop programs and activities to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing population.

As a minor, Deaf Studies is an excellent supplement to your major and eventual career. Those working with the public, such as nurses, accountants, social workers, police officers, and many others, can improve their employment opportunities if they are able to communicate, interact, provide services for, and/or work with deaf and hard of hearing people.

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Opportunities for Students

American Sign Language Learning

You will learn American Sign Language and Deaf Culture from faculty members who are deaf and who are native users of American Sign Language.

As a student in the American Sign Language and Interpreting Program, you will have the opportunity to interact with many deaf and hard-of-hearing residents in Jacksonville, which is the home to the Illinois School for the Deaf and has a large deaf population.

In addition, you can participate in events and programs at the Illinois School for the Deaf, the Jacksonville Community Center for the Deaf, the Jacksonville Center for Independent Living, the Springfield Deaf Club, as well as various other local events and activities for the deaf, where you'll be able to learn and practice ASL.

Interpreting Learning

Photo of students signing the national anthem at a MacMurray sporting event.

Not all interpreting situations can be duplicated realistically in the classroom. In the American Sign Language and Interpreting Program, you will have the opportunity to practice interpreting skills outside of the classroom by providing some interpreting services in the community under the program's supervision. These opportunities will help build confidence, improve your processing skills, and enhance your receptive and expressive skills.

Internships

The purpose of the internship experience is to obtain hands-on, practical experience in interpreting with certified and licensed interpreters as mentors. Such experience is an integral part of the American Sign Language and Interpreting Program, and it is intended to complement the curriculum by allowing you to apply what you have learned at MacMurray in actual interpreting assignments/situations.

A typical internship begins in the spring of your senior year and requires 300 hours of active interpretation. You are encouraged to do your internship in your hometown or wherever you intend to live after you graduate. This will allow you to develop contacts in the Deaf Community there and a client base for after graduation.

After Graduation

Sign language interpreting is a relatively new profession. It is one of the fastest growing professions, due to changes in laws requiring accessible communication, regulations on qualifications, and the increasing use of video services. There is a shortage of certified ASL interpreters in Illinois and throughout the country.

The American Sign Language and Interpreting Program follows the standards established by the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education, the Illinois Interpreter for Deaf Licensure Act of 2007, and the NAD-RID Interpreter Certification. A degree in Interpreting readies students work as entry-level ASL interpreters as independent free-lancers or with a social services agency, in the schools and in a legal or governmental environment, to name just a few.

Coursework

Learn more about Interpreter Preparation courses and how to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in ASL-English Interpretation or an Associate of Arts or minor in Deaf Studies through our catalog.

Faculty

Photo of Jerry Covell

Jerry Covell

Director of the Interpreter Training Program/American Sign Language

"I enjoy sharing my culture and language to students who will work with deaf people."

  • Areas of interest: Covell is interested in studying and researching Deaf History, Deaf Culture, Advocacy, Political Activisms, and Interpreting Ethics.
  • M.A. in Government and Political Science — University of Maryland, College Park
  • B.S. in American Government — Gallaudet University
  • Courses taught: American Sign Language I, American Sign Language II, Perspectives in Deafness: Deaf Culture, Practical and Ethical Applications of Interpreting
Photo of Susan Hall

Susan Hall

Assistant Professor of Interpreting

"I love being a part of the Mac Fam because it is just that...a family. I feel like the investment I make, pouring into the lives of these young pre-professionals, is worth every moment of the time we spend together. In that way, it feels like we are all part of a 'family away from family' here at Mac. I hope that my love for the deaf community and passion for interpreting with integrity will somehow inspire the next generation of interpreters to accomplish things they never thought possible."

  • Areas of interest: Hall is passionate for her community and being a part of it. She has been interpreting and working in the Deaf community for over 25 years and still finds joy in what she does. She also finds it essential to bring life experiences to the classroom in order to provide her students with a current and relevant interpreting education.
  • M.Ed. in Interpreter Education — Tennessee Temple University
  • B.S. in Sign Language Interpreting — Tennessee Temple University
  • A.A. in Sign Language Interpreting — Tennessee Temple University
  • Courses taught: Introduction to Interpreting, Pre-Interpreting, Interpreting I – Interpreting V, Etymology and Translation Applications of English, American Sign Language II, American Sign Language III, Educational Interpreting, Religious Interpreting, ASL to English Interpreting, English to ASL Interpreting