What is a Sign Language Interpreter? A Detailed Overview

If you searching for What is a Sign Language Interpreter? Then you landed on the right page. The interpreters play a pivotal role in facilitating the communication between two parties speaking a different language. Likewise, Sign language interpreters serve deaf and hard of hearing people who communicate with the typical speaking community.

Sign languages are also natural languages like others that have evolved over the years. Moreover, they have similar features to other spoken languages. However, there is no universal sign language, and every country has a unique language. Besides, the same population often uses even two or three different languages.


Nonetheless, several countries may also share a common sign language in some cases.  For instance, the United States and English-speaking Canada commonly use American Sign Language (ASL).

Sign language interpretation services bridge the communication gap between deaf, hard-of-hearing people and the hearing community in various situations. Qualified and experienced professionals work as sign language interpreters, and they serve multiple fields like education, medicine, business, and so on.

What is Sign Language Interpretation? Job opportunities, Qualifications, and Different Types

Are you curious to learn more about a sign language interpreter?, their job Opportunities, Qualifications, and various types of Sign language interpretation. Then you are in the right place. Check out the following sections to get more insights.

What is a sign language interpreter? 

As a profession, sign language interpreter allows deaf and hard-of-hearing people equal access to information and events. Moreover, it guarantees deaf and hard-of-hearing participation in business meetings, conferences, community events, public sector services, mass awareness, and other activities.

What is a sign language interpreter?

Often the sign language interpreter acts as a mediator between communities. Their job responsibilities include neutrally and impartially exchange messages from one language into another. They should speak one or multiple sing languages and should have language training in interpreting as a professional.

Besides, they should also be aware of the cultural differences of the target audience. Essentially, they should have the competencies in linguistic to facilitate communication clearly and smoothly. Moreover, check out another blog post on deaf interpreter phone service – VRI, VRS, ADA, and DRI.

Who can be a sign language interpreter? 

If you want to be a sign language interpreter, it is not enough to know one or more sign languages. To be a sign language interpreter, you need to be qualified for the job with the necessary knowledge and experience. Moreover, it is crucial to know how long it will take to become a sign language interpreter before starting any sign language learning program.

Who can be a sign language interpreter?

Historically, a person’s family, relatives, or friends conduct a sign language interpreter job out of necessity. Nowadays, this is not common as professional interpretation services are available, and in many cases, this can even be counterproductive.

The interpreter needs to grasp the message and have the necessary knowledge and expertise in a specific field such as healthcare, business, etc. He will be able to interpret a message from one language into another. For these reasons, sign language interpreters must undergo special training and practice for working as professionals.

What Qualifications are required for a Sign Language Interpreter?

To start as a sign language professional, ASL or other sign languages are a prerequisite. Then, you require the knowledge of interpretation techniques and specialization in some specific fields. As a sign language interpreter, you can do bachelor and graduate degree programs.

What Qualifications are required for a Sign Language Interpreter

Moreover, you can take some particular certifications from recognized institutions. Likewise, suppose you are planning to pursue your career as an ASL interpreter. In that case, you should take certification by either the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) or the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

You should also have experience in a particular field to find a job because most organizations will ask that. If you participate in different community events organized for or by the deaf community, this will be the best way to gain experience.

When is sign language interpretation needed? 

Sign language interpretation is common in various fields, and a professional interpreter can provide different types of services as needed. Likewise, Educational institutions, courts, medical and healthcare organizations predominantly recruit Sign language interpreters to provide equal access to hard-of-hearing and deaf people.

When is sign language interpretation needed?

It is widespread to use sign language interpretation at business events, during essential speeches and announcements. Moreover, it is also famous for criminal briefings, missing person declarations or presidential speeches, or any other necessary address.

A sign interpreter can also be present in a large event like a conference or in-person meetings to communicate among all sides in the conversation.

Types of Sign Language Interpretation

Sign language interpretation has several types of interpretation depending on the client’s requirements and the interpreter’s availability. We can differentiate it in various modes. Check out the following sections to learn more bout it.

1. Simultaneous sign interpretation 

In Simultaneous sing interpretation, the interpreter simultaneously listens to the speaker and decodes it into sign language for the deaf or hard-of-hearing audience. Similarly, the interpreter also observes the sign language user and converts their message into spoken form to the target audience.

2. Consecutive sign interpretation 

In consecutive sing interpretation, the interpreter listens to a speaker or observes several sentences’ signing language and then decodes them into the target language. While listening or watching the speakers, the interpreter usually takes notes to interpret the message more accurately.

Consecutive Sign Interpretation

In many cases, the interpreter connected remotely via video-conferencing technology to perform his job. The demand for sign language interpreters is growing sharply in recent years. Thus, this service has become very popular.

Sign language interpretation services also have several modalities. Here we have discussed the most common ones in the following section.

ASL interpretation

ASL interpretation is the most used, popular, and preferred type of sign language interpretation in the USA. This form of interpretation includes two languages.  These are ASL and English. Moreover, an sign language interpreter should be fluent in both languages.


In this method, the interpreter needs to transliterate spoken English into a sign language representation of English.  In Transliteration, interpreters follow English language word order, and sometimes they may include the ASL interpretation elements.

Oral Transliteration

It is a less common method of sing language interpretation.  In this method, the interpreters use gestures and silently repeats the spoken English language. Besides, they perform pointing and other specialized techniques for supplementing the mouthing to communicate the message.

Tactile interpretation

Interpreters use this method to facilitate communication with deaf-blind individuals. In this case, the interpreters apply different signs in the person’s hand.

Tactile Interpretation

Moreover, they also use other tactile cues to exchange the full message.

Cued Speech transliteration

This is a less common method than visual access system. In this case, the interpreters use handshapes positioning on different locations around the mouth systematically to represent English phonetic markers. These presentations help them to communicate a message to the deaf and hard of hearing people.

Cued Speech transliteration

Moreover, it is essential to mention that many deaf or hard-of-hearing people also use lip-reading. Therefore, it is also vital for you to speak clearly at an average pace if you need to communicate with such individuals.


The principles of working with any other types of interpreters also apply to a sign language interpreter. It would be best to treat them like other professionals who work there to facilitate communication and exchange the message from the source language into the target language.

Remember, these coding and decoding of the message should be without changing the original meaning or expressing bias towards the transmission. Sign language interpretation is an essential service, and it has a high demand in today’s world. These professionals play a significant role as mediators to assist communication for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. That’s why the people of all communities’ values.

If you are looking to hire a Professional Sign Language Interpreter or Interpreter and Translator, call The Language Doctors team today. Our experience and expert team members will be happy to help you.

You Might Also Like:

Unlocking Accessibility: The Power of Subtitles, Closed Captions, and SDH Subtitles in Translation Services

Exploring Interpretation Types: Fundamental Principles and Application

Interpretation vs translation – what is the difference?

Introduction to Community Interpreting

Telephonic Interpretation Services: Top 10 Services of 2023 for Instant Communication

24 Hour Sign Language Services in Northern Colorado: Expertise You Can Rely On

Get an instant quote

An easy way to get your documents translated fast. Order online in a few clicks.

Get In Touch

Contact Us

1910 Towne Centre Blvd. Suite 1013 Annapolis, MD 21401

1 (202) 544-2942


Please select where you’d like to log in