Do Sign Language Interpreters Use The Same Language?

When people in the United States talk about Sign Language, it is more than likely that they are referring specifically to American Sign Language – the prevalent, English signing used in the U.S. However, ASL is only one out of roughly 300 different sign languages that exist all across the world.

Sign language has evolved for a variety of different reasons – the chief of them being to have a method of communication for the deaf or hard of hearing communities (there are; however, instances where signed languages have been created for the purpose of circumventing taboos on spoken language).

Signed languages are prevalent everywhere from large cities, to remote villages with large populations of deaf or hard of hearing individuals.

What are a few of the different sign languages used around the world?

  • American Sign Language (ASL)Sign Language Interpreting
  • British Sign Language (BSL)
  • Japanese Sign Language (JSL)
  • French Sign Language (LSF)
  • Spanish Sign Language (LSE)
  • Puerto Rican Sign Language (PRSL)
  • Indo-Pakistani Sign Language (IPSL)
  • Thai Sign Language (TSL)
  • Greek Sign Language (GSL)
  • Egyptian Sign Language


Do Signs Mean The Same Things In Different Cultures?

Signed languages, like those that are spoken, will vary greatly in different locations around the world. They can even vary within the same geographic area like dialects of spoken languages.

This may come as a surprise to some; however, signed languages have been in existence for centuries. While there is an international sign language, known as Gestuno, largely different cultures and populations have developed their own, unique signs over many years.

As such, the signs for particular words won’t necessarily be universal. For example, the signs for “sorry” in Japanese Sign Language (JSL), American Sign Language (ASL), and French Sign Language (LSF) are all different.

Sign Languages Airplane


Sign Languages Airplane


Sign Languages Airplane

The signs for airplane for example differ across American Sign Language (ASL), Spanish Sign Language (LSE), and French Sign Language (LSF).

Just like with spoken languages, if users of a particular signed language want to interact with users of a different signed language they must either learn the new signs or else communicate with the help of an interpreter.

Sign Language Interpreters

Sign language interpreters are vital to help bridge the communication gap between members of the hearing community and the deaf community, as well as those between users of different signed languages.

In the U.S. ASL interpreters are increasingly common. They function as medical interpreters, legal interpreters, and community interpreters. Depending on the assignment, ASL interpreters can either work solo going from signed to verbal language and vice versa, or in teams with a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) when multiple signed languages and spoken languages are involved.

In the latter instance, an ASL interpreter for example would convert spoken English into ASL. The CDI would then convert the ASL into the appropriate signed language for his or her audience.

How To Become An ASL Interpreter

In order to become an ASL interpreter, you must first be certified. ASL interpreter certification is gained through the National Interpreter Certification test (NIC).  To successfully pass this test, individuals should have training and experience interpreting.

There are multiple options for gaining experience as an ASL interpreter – either in an academic setting, or through interpreter training programs. To participate in an interpreter training program specifically, you must first be fluent in both American Sign Language and usually English. From there, depending on what field you would like to interpret in, you can choose a course that is tailored to those needs.

Interpreter training programs are also available for those interested in becoming a certified interpreter for spoken languages.

Language Connections offers 7-week medical interpreter training, legal interpreter training, and community & business interpreter training programs. All of our courses are taught by professional interpreters, and class sizes are small to ensure optimal one on one experience with the coaches.

Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our interpreter training programs:Medical Interpreter Training,Legal Interpreter TrainingorCommunity & Business Interpreter Training.

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Yana Fisher

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