ABSTRACT: Fluency Requirements for entry into Sign Language interpreting programs

            In the United States, the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) has established a taskforce to determine specific and descriptive entry and exit fluency requirements in both American Sign Language and English. This taskforce is composed of experts in language acquisition and fluency, along with representatives from the American Sign Language Teaching Association (ASLTA), the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (CCIE), the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), who will advise CIT of the fluency requirements to enter and exit an interpreter education program. This Task Force shall conduct its study within a time frame of six months and report its findings to the boards of CIT, ASLTA and CCIE. 

            In the US, most interpreter training programs accept students who are beginning sign language students. More than 100 interpreting programs in the US are two year programs that accept students who do not know American Sign Language, and 30+ bachelor degree, four-year programs face the same challenge. These programs then teach a language and teach interpreting, an impossible task.  

             By determining sufficient and minimum levels of fluency to enter interpreting programs, we can ensure a higher quality education for students, and give Deaf teachers more opportunities to teach ASL and Deaf Studies in universities and colleges.

            The taskforce will use multiple benchmarks/statements of language proficiency that exist and are in common use around the world. Among the most well-known are the Common European Framework of Reference (SEFR), the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) which describes competence in intercultural communication. In the United States benchmarks for American Sign Language include the Sign Proficiency Interview (SCPI) and the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI). This presentation will focus on the findings of the taskforce and its identification of minimum ASL and English proficiency levels needed to begin learning to interpret.

PowerPoint Handout: CRoy ASL Standards PPT Handout

  • Presented by Cynthia Roy at the international Xiamen University 100th Anniversary Conference, Panel on Sign Language Interpreting Education & Assessment (April 2-3, 2021)
    • Presentation Language: spoken English, with English captions.
    • Run time: Approx. 9 minutes

Biography: Cynthia B. Roy, Ph.D., CSC, is an Independent Scholar and American Sign Language – English Interpreter in the US. She is a retired Professor from the Department of Interpretation and Translation at Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, where she was also director of the bachelor’s program for five years, and director of the PhD program for five years. She earned a Master’s degree in Linguistics from Gallaudet University and a doctorate in Sociolinguistics from Georgetown University. Her dissertation was published as Interpreting as a Discourse Process by Oxford University Press in 2000. Cynthia is also the series editor of the Interpreter Education Seriesat Gallaudet University Press, and editor of the first three volumes. She has published and presented about discourse analysis, interpreted interactions, and sociolinguistic studies in interpreting. With Jemina Napier, she co-edited the Sign Language Interpreting Studies Reader, published by John Benjamins in 2015. In 2018, she co-authored, with Jeremy Brunson and Christopher Stone, The Academic Foundations of Interpreting Studies. An Introduction to Its Theories published by Gallaudet University Press.