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Sign Language Interpretation

Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Credits: 60.0
Length: Four semesters
Campuses:
Credential: Diploma
Learning Format: Full-time
Offered: Fall
program overview
The Sign Language Interpretation Diploma Program prepares students to facilitate communication between hearing and deaf people in a variety of settings. Students learn principles of managing interpretation, communicating bilingually, interacting biculturally and following professional standards. Students entering the Sign Language Interpretation Program must already have a foundation in American Sign Language.

NOTE: International students are not currently eligible for this program. For more information, contact Douglas College International.
curriculum framework

Semester I

CourseTitleCredits
CFCS 1110Introduction to Community3
CFCS 1130Change and Development: Lifespan3
INTR 1142Foundations of Practice1.5
INTR 1145Discourse Analysis and Translation3
INTR 1175Pre-Interpreting ASL I3.5
INTR 1120Self and Professional Practice (biennial)1.5
  15.5

Semester II

INTR 1225Professional and Cultural Mediation3
INTR 1241Sign Language Interpretation - Practicum I4.5
INTR 1242Introduction to Practice1.5
INTR 1275Pre-Interpreting ASL II3.5
INTR 1285Deafhood:Global Diversity in Deaf Culture3
  15.5

Summer before Semester III

INTR 1290Community-based Language and Culture in Action1.5
  1.5

Semester III

INTR 2300Language and Culture in Action: Interpretation I6
INTR 2310Professional and Business Practices3
INTR 2375Pre-Interpreting ASL III4.5
INTR 2320Interpreting in Educational Settings2
  15.5

Semester IV

INTR 2400Language and Culture in Action: Interpretation II1.5
INTR 2420Sign Language Interpretation - Practicum II4.5
INTR 2440Sign Language Interpretation - Practicum III4.5
INTR 2475Pre-Interpreting ASL IV1.5
  12
  60

Grading of fourth semester is based on an exiting portfolio in which students demonstrate mastery of critical skills and knowledge.

career transfer pathways
Sign Language interpreting is a rapidly expanding field, due to the need of deaf individuals to access education, career development, medical/mental health services and community programs. Graduates may be employed in elementary, secondary, or post-secondary education or by provincial, federal or community agencies. Graduates may opt to work as self-employed, independent contractors, providing services in even more diverse settings.
admissions requirements

For general Douglas College admission requirements, please see General Admission Requirements.

  1. meet General College Admissions Requirements.
  2. demonstrate proficiency in American Sign Language communication as determined by an ASL Proficiency Interview (ASLPI).
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the Deaf community, Deaf culture, hearing culture and the field of Sign Language interpreting, as demonstrated by successful completion of the ASL and Deaf Studies Program at Vancouver Community College or equivalent. Applicants who have not attended a recognized Deaf Studies program may be required to take a department threshold exam.
application deadlines
Full Time
  • Fall Deadline: Mar 01
program cost

You can get an average cost for your program - tuition and student fees, books, uniforms, lab fees etc - on the Program Cost page. 

Only programs approved for student loan funding are listed on the Program Cost page. For all other programs, refer to the Tuition Fee page.

curriculum guidelines

Program Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this program and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the program, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Is Sign Language Interpretation right for me?

Sign Language interpretation offers a rewarding career. You are most likely to succeed in this program and as a professional interpreter if:

  • you are bilingual with strong American Sign Language and English-language skills
  • you are mature and can take a hard look at your personal habits, beliefs and values
  • you are comfortable working with people with various values and beliefs
  • you are not too shy
  • you comprehend ideas quickly and can anticipate what speakers will say next
  • you are generally flexible and can deal with stress
  • you are in good physical, mental and emotional health

What’s a practicum?

A practicum is a supervised worksite learning placement. Practicums offer an opportunity to practice the skills and apply the theory learned in the classroom in real-world situations. In the final semester of the program you will go on practicum and experience working under the guidance and mentorship of working interpreters in a variety of settings. For more information, see Worksite Learning.

Is there a wait-list?

Each year the program offers seats to 16 full-time applicants. In the past few years there have been more applicants than seats available so we encourage applicants to apply early. The applicants who best meet the admission criteria will be offered seats in the program. If more than 16 applicants qualify for admission, applicants over and above the first 16 who meet the entrance requirements will be put on a temporary wait list. If an applicant does not accept a seat when offered, it will then be offered to the next person on the list. The wait-list does not transfer to the following year’s intake, so applicants not offered a seat will need to reapply.

What’s the difference between knowing ASL and interpreting?

Knowing ASL means you can communicate with others using ASL. As an interpreter, you will need additional skills (learned in this program) to understand how to translate what is being said in English or signed in ASL into the other language.

I have little to no experience with ASL. What educational path can I follow to get the skills I need to get into this program?

If you have little to no experience with American Sign Language, you should start with preparatory American Sign Language classes. Many students complete ASL Prep levels 1-4 at Douglas College, and then enroll in the ASL and Deaf Studies program at VCC in order to prepare themselves for the Douglas College Sign Language Interpretation program. So, the steps are:

  1. ASL Prep Levels I-IV through Douglas College Continuing Education
  2. ASL and Deaf Studies program at Vancouver Community College (VCC).
  3. Douglas College Sign Language Interpretation program

OR

Some students choose to complete all of the preparatory classes through Douglas College Continuing Education (depending on class availability):

  1. ASL Prep Levels I-IV through Douglas College Continuing Education
  2. ASL Basic I-IV and Intermediate through Douglas College Continuing Education
  3. Douglas College Sign Language Interpretation program

What courses will I take?

This program has a high level of instruction as well as unique curriculum and activity requirements. Key features of the program include Deaf community involvement and one full semester of interpreting. You are required to complete volunteer hours, immersion activities in the Deaf community (for example, camps lasting several days) and supervised work placements.

Before you graduate, you'll demonstrate your skills and readiness to enter the interpreting field by compiling a portfolio showcasing your experience and interpreting samples. Your portfolio and related presentations will be assessed by members of the Deaf community, professional interpreters and program faculty.

For detailed course descriptions, see the Curriculum tab (above). 

Can I study part-time?

To move through the sequence of courses most efficiently and successfully, it is strongly recommended that you take the program on a full-time basis. If you wish to pursue part-time studies, contact the program coordinator. Admission priority is given to full-time students.

The volunteering, immersion activities and community interpreting requirements of this program are very time-demanding. If you must work while enrolled in the program, your job must be flexible to accommodate classroom and community requirements.

Can I transfer to university?

Graduates from the Program of Sign Language Interpretation may wish to continue their education and/or pursue a degree. Block transfer of credits may be possible to various institutions in BC and Alberta.

What’s the average age of students in the program?

The age of students in the program usually ranges between 19 and 40 with the average age being 26.

How involved is the Deaf community in the program?

One of the many unique aspects of the program is the involvement of the local Deaf community. This involvement ranges from Deaf individuals serving on the Program Advisory Committee, to acting as language models for students in class, to doing live presentations which students interpret.

A service the program provides in return to the Deaf community is to have students offer volunteer interpreting services. The settings in which this service is offered are always settings in which no paid interpreter would be provided (ie, family gatherings, swimming lessons, etc). The Deaf people who utilize students' services provide comments on how well they think the student did which assists with the student's skill development.

Does the program have any connection to the provincial interpreting association, the Westcoast Association of Visual Language Interpreters (WAVLI)?

The association and its members are a large component of the program. The WAVLI Executive Board has a student liaison position giving students access to the executive and the current events of the association. Many WAVLI members offer to act as "twins" to first year students, acting as a resource for student questions. This relationship allows the student to glean information from the professional about the field of interpreting, develop relationships with future colleagues, and gain insight into standards of practice. Professionals also come to class to team interpret with students fostering a sense of professionalism. The professional interpreters also often visit classes as guest speakers, panelists and models for the students. At the end of the first year of the program, students become Student Members of the association and as such can attend workshops, association meetings and fundraising events for the organization.

What are the job prospects?

Job prospects for graduates of this program are excellent. A survey of graduates over the past five years shows that all graduates were working more than 21 hours/week in the field within four months following graduation. Thirty-six percent of these positions were permanent positions and the remaining positions were made up of interpreters working on contract in post-secondary settings or as freelance interpreters in the community.

Graduates of the Program of Sign Language Interpretation work in various settings including education (K-12 and post-secondary), medical, religious, legal, video-relay, and community.

What are the salaries of Sign Language Interpreters?

Salaries for Sign Language Interpreters range from approximately $26 per hour (for recent graduates working 25-30 hours per week in schools) to $35-55 per hour (freelance rates for experienced graduates with additional certification).

tuition deposit

When offered a full-time seat in this program a non-refundable, non-transferable $350 tuition deposit is required. 

upcoming application deadline
  • Full-time Fall deadline:
    Mar 01