A certificate in American Sign Language (ASL) will enable you to pursue a career working with deaf people, or may assist you in communicating with a friend or family member who is deaf. A certificate is proof that you completed a course of study on ASL at a postsecondary institution. While employers and individuals who employ ASL interpreters and others fluent in ASL have different educational requirements, a certificate from a reputable program is often required.
Check with local schools and colleges to see if an ALS certificate program is offered in your area. Local community colleges often offer such programs. You can also do an online search for this information.
Examine the costs and requirements for the ASL program of your choice, "comparison-shopping" if there are several options in your area. For instance, if you want to focus on improving your ASL skills alone, a language-intensive program may be right for you. On the other hand, if you want to get a good overall education in dealing with deaf individuals, you may prefer one that delves into the overall aspects of deaf culture. Some programs are designed for people wishing to become sign language interpreters, while others are geared to parents of deaf children and others who simply want to be able to communicate with deaf family members.
Enroll in the ALS certificate program of your choice. Expect to pay an application fee.The cost of the program will likely be due before the start of classes.
Obtain the necessary textbooks and course materials and attend your classes. Practice your ASL skills outside of class whenever possible, as is recommended with any language you study. Once you have successfully passed all required classes, you will be awarded a certificate.
In addition to a certificate from the school in which you studied ASL, you may want to pursue certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) (www.rid.org) if your goal is to become an ASL interpreter. Various levels of certification exist and can be acquired through examinations. RID describes itself as "a national membership organization representing the professionals who facilitate communication between people who are deaf or hard of hearing and people who hear. Interpreters serve as professional communicators in a vast array of settings."
Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.