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 Vancouver Community 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:
- ASL Prep Levels I - IV through Vancouver Community College
- ASL and Deaf Studies program at Vancouver Community College
- 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).