I am interested in becoming an interpreter, but I need more American Sign Language training. What should I do?

The most important first step towards becoming a sign language interpreter is achieving near-native fluency in American Sign Language (ASL). This requires at least two years of continuing ASL instruction and frequent contact with deaf people who use ASL by attending social events, volunteering in deaf organizations or interacting with deaf people in work or educational settings.

Interpreter training programs include in their curricula understanding and knowledge of ASL (applicable to sign language interpreting programs only), Deaf Culture, the complex process of interpretation from one language to another language, and the interpreter code of ethics, which embodies professional standards of integrity, impartiality and confidentiality. To become a skilled certified interpreter takes years of practice and training.

Are there interpreter training programs in Massachusetts?

There are three programs in the state that offer interpreter training programs. They are:

Northeastern University
American Sign Language Program
360 Huntington Avenue
405 Meserve Hall
Boston, MA 02115
617-373-3064 Voice
857-366-4198 VP
617-373-3065 Fax

Northern Essex Community College
Sign Language Interpreter Program
100 Elliott Way
Haverhill, MA 01830
978-556-3658 Voice
978-556-3673 TTY
978-556-3740 Fax

Clarke School for the Deaf
Oral Interpreting Program
47 Round Hill Road
Northampton, MA 01060
413-582-1147 Voice/TTY
Contact: Claire Troiano

For a complete listing of Interpreter Training programs across the United States, contact:

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID)
(see address below, a complete listing of interpreter training programs can be downloaded from the RID website)

Is there a professional organization of interpreters?

Yes. Interpreters have a national professional organization with statewide chapters across the United States:

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.
333 Commerce Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 838-0030 V
(703) 838-0459 TTY
(703) 838-0454 Fax
Internet: www.RID.org

Massachusetts Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (MassRID)
P.O. Box 2171
Westfield, MA 01086
Internet: www.massrid.org

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.