Imagine being in a classroom where you are unable to hear what people are saying. In addition to this, you cannot communicate what you want to say to others. This reality happens to children who are deaf or hearing-impaired who have been integrated into traditional schools. School districts may have sign language interpreters who they hire for some events, but they are not always part of the school community. Part of the reason this happens is the shortage of sign language interpreters. This leaves a wide gap between the supply and demand in many settings, including schools.
If you are a sign language interpreter, or thinking about this career, here are some things to consider.
- Work community events – If you are fluent in American Sign Language, get yourself into the community. Let people know that you are available to be a sign language interpreter for different events where there may be deaf or hearing-impaired individuals who need this service. You are a valuable resource who many people may not be aware of. Share your skills on social media and leave a way for people to get in touch.
- Teach kids sign – Volunteer at local libraries or other places to share your love of ASL. One of the easiest ways to break into the community is to share a story or teach people how to sign a popular song. The more people see and understand the need for it, the more people will actively seek out to learn the language. In addition to this, it will spark conversations with people and possibly send them into a new career path.
- Working beyond the school day – If you work within a school as a sign language interpreter, be an advocate for your students. Remind schools that the need for your work goes beyond the regular school day. Children may need support during after school activities like clubs, special programs, and more.
The key to helping individuals with hearing impairments is to empower them. Sign language interpreters not only aid with this, but allow others within the community to get to know these individuals who they may otherwise ignore. The power to assist is on your side, but it is crucial to get the word out. Sell your dedication, skill, and personal stories of working with deaf individuals and how it helped them. Encourage people to ask questions and think of additional ways that your signing could assist in a classroom, school event, or other ways within the community.