The Central Piedmont Interpreter Education Program is founded on the belief that Deaf people constitute a linguistic and cultural minority group. American Sign Language (ASL) is the natural and indigenous language of the Deaf Community. Instructors encourage students to acquire and master ASL both through classroom instruction and diverse contact within the Deaf Community. The program uses the approach that interpreters are allies within the Deaf Community and that interpreting is a complex cognitive process. We recognize that not all deaf people use ASL. We encourage students to broaden their competence and expertise through on-going association with a variety of Deaf persons and a commitment to life-long learning.
What You Will Learn
The interpreter education program provides a challenging and contemporary academic environment that fosters self-awareness, self-discovery and active learning. You will acquire the knowledge and master the skills as well as develop the attitudes necessary to work as an entry-level interpreter. All this is done in a manner that demonstrates our respect and appreciation for student, Deaf, and non-deaf consumer diversity. After completing our program, you can actually continue your education in interpreting all the way up to the doctoral level if you wish.
Graduates of the program are prepared to obtain a provisional license to interpret in the community and/or to take the Educational Interpreters Performance Assessment (EIPA) to work in k-12 educational settings in NC. Currently, the EIPA requirement is a level 3 or higher. Typically, students graduating from our program have been able to attain that outcome or better.
ASL is as different from spoken/written English as any other language is such as French, Spanish, or German. So, when Deaf people who use ASL are interacting with hearing people who speak English, they frequently need the services of an ASL-English Interpreter to understand one another. Whether the Deaf person is the teacher or the student, the medical care provider or the patient, the supervisor or the employee, the service provider or the consumer, the ASL-English Interpreter is the one that enables the communication to be mutually understood. An ASL-English interpreter must understand the meaning and intention of something being said or signed in one language and accurately convey that meaning or intention in the other language. ASL-English Interpreters must have excellent fluency in both English and American Sign Language, excellent concentration abilities, good public speaking abilities, the ability to comprehend language whether presented auditorily or visually, the ability to express language whether verbally or gesturally, strong general knowledge of the world, the ability to be comfortable in different environments with people from different cultural backgrounds, and the ability to make well-reasoned ethical and linguistic decisions. Interpreting is an exciting and challenging career for those who are engaged life-long learners, intellectually curious, enjoy studying languages and learning about different cultures, and enjoy making it possible for people from different backgrounds and communities to be able to interact together and understand one another. Skilled and qualified ASL-English Interpreters are in high demand.
Student Learning Objectives
At the completion of the interpreter education program, you will be able to:
ASL Communication and Bi-Cultural Competency
Carry on an extended conversation in ASL elaborating in details and will be able to present in formal register in both ASL and English. You will be able to differentiate and describe cultural differences of a variety of cultures with a special emphasis on mainstream American culture and American Deaf culture. You will be able to describe the central differences between American culture and American Deaf culture and apply your understanding to the contextualization of your message transfer work.
Meaning Transfer Skills
Demonstrate entry-level meaning transfer skills between ASL and English in both consecutive and simultaneous modalities in a variety of genres, registers, and settings with a variety of consumers. Further, you will be able to engage in self-analysis of your meaning transfer work by identifying patterns of effective behavior and areas that require further skill development. You will be able to analyze and transcribe ASL and English texts for salient linguistic features, non-manual markers, goal and intent of the message, illocutionary force, and will compare your interpretations to the original source text to critique your work for successful transfer of meaning.
Ethical Decision Making Skills
When presented with an ethical scenario related to sign language interpreting, you will be able to analyze the key elements of the scenario, determine whether it is a moral temptation or ethical dilemma, identify stakeholders, formulate potential responses, apply the RID Code of Professional Conduct, and predict the potential impact of your response considering both short- and long-term implications of your response on the primary stakeholders. You will be able to articulate your response both in written English and in ASL. You will apply demand control schema analysis to a variety of interpreted scenarios and analyze scenarios to develop appropriate control responses.
Present yourself professionally to the business and consumer community and will illustrate professional behaviors and demonstrate a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of a professional interpreter and a commitment to professional behavior within the field. You will be able to communicate effectively and professionally with peers, colleagues, consumers, and employers. You will demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning by formulating continuing education and professional development plans in pursuit of career goals within the field of sign language interpreting or related fields.
Why Choose Central Piedmont
We are proud to be the first community college in the nation to enter into an articulation agreement with Gallaudet University's Bachelor's in Interpreting Program, providing our students with a clear pathway to complete their four-year degree in ASL-English interpreting. By further honing the fine skills acquired at Central Piedmont, students who continue their studies at Gallaudet will enjoy increased employment and leadership opportunities, becoming practitioners who can serve the Deaf and hard of hearing community in more challenging and advanced settings. Central Piedmont's articulation agreement with Gallaudet University not only addresses the national demand for more skilled interpreters, it also gives Central Piedmont students an opportunity to transfer 100 % of their academic credits to Gallaudet University, where they have the opportunity to live and study in a Deaf space with Deaf people. This special learning environment will equip our graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to one day start their own businesses, work in a government setting, and be successful in a variety of environments. The bachelor’s degree students earn at Gallaudet University qualifies them to sit for the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Certification, the credential most sought after by employers, and qualify them for full licensure under North Carolina law. Currently, Central Piedmont graduates may obtain provisional licensure. Earning the industry’s credential and licensure will give youthe best opportunity to achieve success in this complex and ever-evolving profession.
All ASL instructors are native ASL speakers, American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) Certified, and have a master's degree. All interpreting (IPP) instructors have a master's degree, National RID Certification, and NCITLB state licensure as ASL-English Interpreters. Our faculty are also distinguished in their field and recognized nationally for their excellence in ASL instruction. For example:
- James Wilson is vice president of the American Sign Language Teachers' Association (ASLTA)
- Donnie Dove is vice president of the NC Association of the Deaf (NCAD)
- Beverly Woodel is vice president of the NC ASL Teachers' Association (NCASLTA) and has been awarded the NC School for the Deaf "Imprint Award" for her volunteer work as president of the Historic Rumisell Museum Society
Our interpreter education program is one of the few Associate in Applied Science degree programs that, while taking longer to complete, places a heavy emphasis on ASL acquisition prior to teaching interpreting skills. Consider trying to learn to interpret in any language. You would not attempt to interpret between Spanish and English without having good bilingual skills in both languages. American Sign Language is no different. Students must have bilingual and bicultural skills in both ASL and English to begin to have the foundation needed to learn to interpret. We have found that, by requiring our students to complete at least four semesters of ASL instruction and interaction with the Deaf community and demonstrate an ASLPI of intermediate or better, our students are better prepared to learn interpreting skills. The approach of requiring students to present some mastery of ASL skills prior to learning to interpret works best for student outcomes and preparation to work in the field. Our students come from diverse backgrounds. About 50% of our students already have a bachelor's, other associate, or other advanced degree prior to enrolling in our program. Students in our program successfully attain employment working as interpreters in the community, in k-12 and post secondary educational environments, and in video relay. Many of our students successfully complete National Certification in Interpreting within 4 to 5 years of graduating from the program.
You will also have the opportunity to participate in the student iASL Club.
Real World Education
At Central Piedmont, your education goes beyond what you learn in class. We offer numerous opportunities for you to enhance your learning — and to make friends, network, and pursue your passions — through clubs and organizations, sports, events and activities, leadership opportunities, job experience, volunteer experiences, visual and performing arts, and even international experiences.