As a language services provider, Homeland Language Services offers a range of interpreting services to help bridge communication gaps between people who speak different languages. One such service is American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, which is a crucial component in enabling effective communication between the Deaf community and hearing individuals.
ASL interpretation is a complex process that requires a unique skill set and understanding of Deaf culture. An ASL interpreter needs to be fluent in both ASL and English, understand the cultural nuances of Deaf communities, and have the ability to quickly and accurately interpret spoken language into ASL.
To gain a deeper understanding of ASL interpretation, we spoke to one of our ASL interpreters, Nicole Lewis, who shared her journey and insights about the profession.
- What inspired you to become an American Sign Language interpreter, and how did you start?
I never thought I would become a sign language interpreter. At the age of 10, I became friends with a deaf girl (with whom I am still an excellent friend to this day) who lived in my neighborhood, and picked up the language to be able to communicate with her. During that time, her interpreter set up an after-school club for anyone who wanted to learn ASL. I then went on and took four years in high school as a language. I was encouraged to attend college to become an interpreter. I am humbled by the support I have had through the years of learning and meeting many people in the Deaf/DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing communities.
- What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful American Sign Language interpreter, and how do you cultivate those qualities in yourself?
ASL is a language all on its own and is not a direct translation of English to signs, which means someone who interprets ASL needs to be familiar with and obtain the skill set(s) of both languages. An interpreter bridges the gap between deaf and hearing clients. They also need to have deep cultural knowledge and understanding of Deaf culture and their community. I try to cultivate those qualities as well by staying on top of the newest signs, researching topics when possible before interpreting them, and always trying to find the equivalent dynamic of the languages I interpret. I also try to stay abreast of the CPC (code of professional conduct).
- How do you stay engaged and motivated in your work as an interpreter, and what advice do you have for others who may be interested in pursuing this career path?
Staying motivated isn’t that hard! I have grown up learning ASL and being active in the community and making lifelong friends. Being open to learning, going to workshops, and finding events to attend are a few ways to stay motivated. The Deaf/DeafBlind communities are welcoming to everyone, and the close connections you make along the way hold a special place in one’s heart. My advice to others interested in pursuing a career path in becoming a sign language interpreter is to get involved, make connections, find mentors, never stop learning, and enjoy the journey of learning this beautiful language.
At Homeland Language Services, we understand the importance of effective communication, and our team of skilled ASL interpreters is committed to bridging the gap between the Deaf community and hearing individuals. If you need ASL interpretation services, whether on-site or via video, please contact us to discuss your needs. We are here to help you communicate clearly and effectively, regardless of language barriers.