Sign Language Interpretation (Diploma)

Learning Format
Admission Type
Limited Enrolment


If you’re skilled in American Sign Language (ASL), the Diploma in Sign Language Interpretation will prepare you for a dynamic career in a rapidly expanding field. 

You’ll learn how to facilitate communication between hearing and hearing-impaired people in a variety of settings. Upon program completion you will be able to interpret meaning, communicate bilingually, act bi-culturally, act ethically, and use appropriate business skills. 

Get practical experience during your studies 

This sign language interpreter program emphasizes practical experience and community work terms, giving you many opportunities to practice what you are learning. You'll complete three, one-month practicum placements during your final semester, where you will be teamed with professional interpreters in their work settings. 

Program Requirements

Curriculum Framework

Graduation Requirements:

  • Successful completion of 60 credits
  • 25% (15 credits) of all coursework must be completed at Douglas College
  • Students are responsible for providing all necessary documentation to demonstrate English Entrance requirements or equivalencies.

Course Requirements:

Course Number Course Title Credits

Semester I

INTR 2110

Positionality in the Deaf Community


INTR 2142

Foundations of Practice I


INTR 2155

Interpretation Theory & Practice I: Translation


INTR 2130

Deaf Community Service Learning I


MODL 2164

American Sign Language Level 8


Semester I Total Credits



Semester II

INTR 2210

Ethics & Professional Decision Making


INTR 2242

Foundations of Practice II


INTR 2255

Interpretation Theory & Practice II


INTR 2230

Deaf Community Service Learning II


INTR 2201

Deafhood: Pathways to Identity & Diversity


MODL 2262

American Sign Language Level 9


Semester II Total Credits



Semester III

INTR 2355

Interpretation Theory & Practice III: Community


MODL 2361

American Sign Language Level 10


Semester III Total Credits



Semester IV

INTR 3110

Self & Community of Practice


INTR 3120

Interpreting in Educational Settings


INTR 3155

Interpretation Theory & Practice IV


INTR 3161

Advanced Pre-interpreting ASL


Semester IV Total Credits



Semester V

INTR 3242

Practicum Readiness


INTR 3280

Practicum I


INTR 3290

Practicum II


Semester V Total Credits



 Total Program Credits





Admissions Requirements

Applicants must meet the admission requirements listed below:

  • General College Admission Requirements;
  • successful completion of ENGL 1130 or CMNS 1115 (3 credits) (or equivalent as indicated in the BC Transfer Guide);
  • proficiency in American Sign Language (demonstrated during the screening and selection process); and
  • an understanding of the Deaf community, Deaf culture, hearing culture and the field of Sign Language interpreting, as demonstrated by one of the following:

               successful completion of an ASL and Deaf Studies Program; or

               successful completion of the following seven courses (21 credits) (or equivalent as indicated in the BC Transfer Guide):

                 -  One of CMNS 1104 or CMNS 1216 (3 credits)

                 -  One of CMNS 1125 or PEFA 1100 (3 credits)

                 -  INTR 1101 (3 credits)

                 -  INTR 1102 (3 credits)

                 -  INTR 1103 (3 credits)

                 -  One 11XX-level (first-year) LING (3 credits)

                 -  SOCI 1125 (3 credits)



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.

Career Pathways

Some career opportunities will require further education in addition to your credential.

  • Sign Language Interpreter - Court, Legal Aid, Justice areas 
  • Sign Language Interpreter - Employment Programs 
  • Sign Language Interpreter - Mental Health Clinics 
  • Sign Language Interpreter - Social Services
  • Bookkeeper - ASL Specialist Career Development Practitioner - ASL Specialist
  • International Sign Language Interpreter
  • Newcomers Information and Support Worker
  • Interpreter Technician
  • Early Childhood Educator - ASL Specialist

Program 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.


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

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.

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.

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.

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 Vancouver Community College, and then enrol 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 Vancouver Community College
  2. ASL and Deaf Studies program at Vancouver Community College
  3. Douglas College Sign Language Interpretation program

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). 

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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).

More Information

Tuition Deposit

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