American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are essential for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to access information and participate equitably in society. They provide a vital link between the Deaf Community and the hearing world, allowing for greater communication and understanding.
There are many situations in which ASL interpreters are needed. They are used in educational settings such as schools and universities, and in medical settings like hospitals, clinics and emergency care. In addition, ASL interpreters are often used in legal settings, such as courtrooms and police stations.
There is no question that ASL interpreters play a vital role in ensuring that Deaf and Hard of Hearing people have equal access to information and opportunities.
So, what happens when there is a shortage of ASL interpreters?
Maintaining the status quo is not an option due to the legal requirements around ASL interpretation. Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers won’t accept it, and neither will organizations who are mandated to provide this vital service.
TLG understands this and is doing our part to be sure our clients get the ASL interpreters and services their Deaf and Hard of Hearing patients and customers need.
The first step to ensuring ASL coverage is to be proactive. We educate and encourage all of our clients to preschedule for onsite interpretation. This means having the client request the ASL interpreter immediately after the patient or individual schedules their appointment. This gives us more time to staff an assignment. If we cannot staff onsite, then we recommend virtual as a backup, which although sometimes not preferred by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, fulfills clients’ requirements under the law.
Another step in the right direction is our constant recruitment efforts. We recently hired an ASL consultant to deliver CEU training to ASL interpreters in key markets. We are hiring full and part time ASL resources to bolster our onsite and virtual coverage. And we actively sponsor and participate in ASL-centered educational and community events. We search for the best, credentialed interpreters, and encourage those interested in an interpreting career to look into ASL.
Becoming an ASL interpreter is a rewarding career that can make a real difference in the lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. If you are interested in pursuing a career as an ASL interpreter, we encourage you to learn more about the profession and explore your options.
There are many resources available to help you get started. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf – Education. Standards. Excellence. (rid.org) is a great place to start your research. RID provides information about educational programs, certification requirements, and job opportunities. You can, of course, always contact The Language Group to discuss employment opportunities or resources to help you start or further your career ambitions.