How Did Sign Language Interpreting Come To Be A Profession?

Back in the day, before RID came into existence, there were people who were interpreters for family and friends. Interpreting wasn’t their main job. They had a regular 9-5 and some were housewives. These interpreters were not formally trained and their qualifications simply consisted of having a knowledge of English, some Sign Language, and a willingness to step up to the plate and help. Many interpreters were like myself, a Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA) and naturally took on the interpreter role from childhood.

By the time the 1960’s came around, American Sign Language was finally recognized as a bona fide language. Around the same time, linguist William Stokoe published the very first linguistic study of ASL.

RID was established in 1964 and created interpreter certification standards and put into place a code of ethics for practitioner members.

When the 1970’s came around, interpreting training programs (ITP) were established and were about six to eight weeks long. During this time, the ITP programs focused on settings that interpreters might expect to work such as religious, telephone, courtroom, and medical. ITPS were not yet equipped to support the skills, knowledge, and abilities that enable interpreters to perform at peak effectiveness. However, it was a start and the programs today were build from this foundation.

Read: 5 Good-To-Know Facts about RID and How to Become a Sign Language Interpreter

References + Resources:

Sign Language: Moving Toward Professionalism

History of Sign Language Interpreting

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