Established in 1993, the American Sign Language Department at Columbia College Chicago offered the first Bachelor of Arts in Interpretation in the state of Illinois. The four-year major is designed for students who want to pursue careers as interpreters. The core curriculum provides a coherent plan of study through courses in American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, linguistics, the theories and skills involved in interpreting and transliterating, multicultural issues, and a two-semester interpreting and transliterating practicum, which includes interpreting fieldwork supervised by professional mentor interpreters.
In order to be successful interpreters, students in the major at Columbia will need to acquire mastery of standard American English, fluency in American Sign Language, and familiarity with public speaking techniques, as well as sensitivity to multicultural issues and challenges in interpersonal communication.
As a result of successfully completing program requirements, students should be able to:
- understand the cultural foundations of the field of ASL-English Interpretation;
- recognize the American Deaf community as a linguistic and cultural minority group;
- possess an in-depth understanding of the history of the Deaf community and American Deaf culture;
- understand what is meant by multiculturalism within the Deaf community and how it effects the interpreting profession;
- appreciate diversity in the interpreting profession and to apply their insights when working in diverse communities;
- define the characteristics of special populations of Deaf and hard of hearing persons who require unique communication and interpreting techniques;
- communicate proficiently in ASL and English;
- demonstrate proficiency of use of and comprehension of advanced vocabulary and grammatical features of ASL;
- demonstrate proficiency of use of and comprehension of advanced vocabulary and grammatical features of English;
- understand the theoretical foundations of the field of ASL-English Interpretation;
- know the history and various theories of spoken language interpreting;
- understand various models of sign language interpreting and compare and contrast those models to the models of spoken language interpreting;
- explore the applications of practical ethical theories and behaviors crucial to professional interpreters;
- understand basic research practices as they relate to the interpreting profession;
- understand the professional foundations of the field of ASL-English Interpretation;
- understand all tenets of the RID-NAD Code of Professional Conduct, as well as their purpose and function from both a theoretical and practical point of view, and to apply the tents to interpreting assignments and ethical scenarios;
- understand the role of the interpreter and the evolution of that role from a cultural perspective;
- demonstrate knowledge of professional credentialing and laws that pertain to interpreters; and
- demonstrate knowledge of ethical business practices, professional interpreting agencies and organizations and Deafness-related organizations.