ASL study offers two career paths

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The American Sign Language glee club sings the national anthem during SACtacular Oct. 4 in the mall.  Marie Sullins

The American Sign Language glee club sings the national anthem during SACtacular Oct. 4 in the mall. Marie Sullins

By Justin Rodriguez

The American Sign Language program revolves around a culture, not just a language.

“One misconception (of the interpreters) is that the students are just helpers,” Jo Hilton, interpreting services manager, said.

The professors and students both benefit, Hilton said. “This semester, faculty appear to be more accepting of interpreters in the classroom … because sometimes interpreters can be distracting,” she said.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board rates the ASL program and interpreter training at this college as exemplary.

“It (sign language) is becoming recognized as a language,” she said.

Students can pursue three degrees. Two can be completed here and a bachelor of applied science can be continued at universities that offer ASL.

The two degrees here are associate of applied science for sign language interpreters and an associate of applied science in ASL for deaf support specialists.

According to, the average salary for an ASL interpreter is $30,000 per year.

Interpreters must complete a 240-hour internship, typically interning at local schools.

Deaf support specialists usually complete internships in school districts because of the experience gained, Hilton said.

Students interning at this college typically interpret for guest speakers or at the Methodist Student Center Hot Potato lecture each week.

“Deaf people are just like you; they just can’t hear,” Secretary Ray Rodriguez said.

Interpreters stand in front of an audience and interpret word-for-word. “It is important that the meaning and context of the words are interpreted down to the body and facial expression,” he said.

Students in the program use the Sorenson Video Relay Service, a system designed for video communication to help students interact with tutors and interpreters.

“Making efforts to communicate matters to students,” he said.

Some students take sign language as a foreign language at first, but later become interpreters. “Some do it because of their love for the language — the culture. Some have been influenced by a deaf person in their life,” Rodriguez said.

For more information, visit Room 114 of Nail Technical Center or call 210-486-1106.


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