American Sign Language Studies
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American Sign Language Studies Associate Degrees and Certificates
View video on the NECC YouTube Channel.
If you would like your career to include providing services to the Deaf /Hard of Hearing/ DeafBlind communities, Northern Essex offers several options for you to choose from. Our American Sign Language Studies Associate Degree has three concentrations to choose from:
- American Sign Language Concentration
- Human Services Concentration
- Interpreting Transfer Concentration
We also offer a Sign Language Interpreting Certificate, which is an intensive program designed to provide a foundation in American Sign Language (ASL), Deaf Culture, and Interpreting. Participants also have an opportunity to explore careers in sign language interpreting.
Studying for a Sign Language Degree at NECC:
You can enter the workforce directly or transfer to a four-year bachelor’s degree program.
- If you want to enter the workforce directly, you can prepare for a career as a direct service provider in residential programs independent living, organizations, or state agencies.
- Or you can transfer into a four-year program in ASL – English Interpreting, Deaf Studies, education, or human/social services among numerous options.
The American Sign Language Studies degree can also be an advantage in other professions that serve Deaf/Hard of Hearing/DeafBlind people.
Please call or email one of the following:
Kevin Fleese, Program Coordinator
Erik Bailey, ASL Studies Program Assistant
Frequently Asked Questions
The ASL Studies Program at NECC offers 3 different concentrations, what are they?
The 3 concentrations offered at NECC under the ASL Studies Program are described below and are offered as a custom fit to students interests.
- Associate in Arts, American Sign Language Studies Concentration provide students with a broad introduction to American Sign Language and linguistics, Deaf Culture, Deaf history, and Deaf literature. Graduates of this concentration typically continue their education at other post-secondary institutions or else gain entry-level employment in agencies serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.
- Associate in Arts, Interpreting Transfer Concentration gives students a pre-interpreting foundation that can transfer to 4-year interpreting programs. This option gives students a foundation in American Sign Language and linguistics, Deaf culture, Deaf history, and Deaf literature, as well as an introduction to the interpreting field.
- Associate in Arts, Human Service Concentration provide students with a broad introduction to American Sign Language and linguistics, Deaf Culture, Deaf history, and Deaf literature. Graduates of this concentration typically are seeking entry level or assistant positions in Deaf human service settings or they plan to transfer and specialize in social work, vocational rehabilitation, counseling, or other related fields.
The ASL Studies Program at NECC offers a Sign Language Certificate. How does this differ from the concentrations offered or other bachelor’s programs?
NECC’s Sign Language Interpreting Certificate is available to students already holding an associate degree or higher. This certificate is designed to provide students with a foundation in American Sign Language and linguistics, Deaf culture, Deaf history, introduction to the interpreting field, and Interpreting.
Are ASL classes taught by Deaf instructors? If so, how will I know what is being taught?
ASL classes are taught by Deaf instructors and classes are taught using immersion education. This means that students, while in class, do not speak to communicate. Instructors will teach at an appropriate pace to meet student’s needs while learning the language. Instructors will employ tools such as pictures, gestures and writing to bring clarity to lessons.
After graduation with an Associate in Arts ASL Studies, should I stay at NECC for the Sign Language Certificate program or should I transfer to a bachelor’s program in interpreting?
Northern Essex Community College is the only institution that offers this specialized type of certification at an affordable rate. It is our recommendation that once you have earned your associate degree in ASL Studies that you continue at NECC to earn your ASL interpreting certificate. The program will prepare you to be state screened upon completion so you can enter the work force. Once you have passed the state screening and are working as an ASL/English interpreter you can better decide if you want to continue for your bachelor’s degree in interpreting or another field of study. Your screening is valid for 4 years.
What is the state screening?
The state of Massachusetts evaluates people’s skills through a two-part screening process for people interested in becoming and working as ASL/English Interpreters in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire. NECC instructors will not only provide the foundation needed for the screening but give support and encouragement to take the screening after completing the certificate program. Follow the link below for more information regarding MCDHH interpreter screening. https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-commission-for-the-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing
When should I be screened by MCDHH (Massachusetts Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing?
The best time to request a screening is after earning the ASL Studies Certificate before moving on to a bachelor’s degree (If you do not already have one). Having passed the screening will give you hands on experience and the opportunity to know if the job of interpreter is right for you. To obtain national certification with RID, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in any major. If you have decided after working as an interpreter for 6 months to 1 year and you want to earn a bachelor’s in ASL/English interpreting you can then use what you learn in the degree program and directly apply it to your work.
What is RID national certificate? If I am state screened do I need to also be nationally certified?
MCDHH State Screening qualifies interpreters to work in the state of Massachusetts and covers New Hampshire. As an interpreter your goal is to become nationally certified because the RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf) establishes a standard of quality among working interpreters by verifying an interpreter’s knowledge and skill level. RID qualifies interpreters to work anywhere in the U.S. RID holds interpreters accountable for their business practices and sees that they are working ethically in the D/DB/HH* communities. RID Certification requires individuals to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in any field of study prior to testing.
Can I enroll in the Sign Language Interpreting Certificate Program if my degree is from another institution?
Yes. If you are interested in the Sign Language Interpreting Certificate Program you can enter with either an associate or bachelor’s degree and from any field of study and any credited institution.
What is the partnership with UNH Manchester?
Students interested in pursuing a degree in ASL/English interpreting can attend classes at UNH Manchester and transferring is seamless. The partnership allows Massachusetts residence to attend and pay resident tuition even if they do not live in New Hampshire.
Interested in taking a non-credit class instead? View our non-credit online options.Print View
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American Sign Language Studies