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Sign Language Division

Welcome to the IMIA ASL Division Page!

In the United States and Canada alone, there are an estimated 250,000 - 500,000 individuals who use American Sign Language as their primary language. It may be assumed that at some point, each of these individuals will require medical attention. While there are national and state level generalist certifications, and special certifications for Legal interpreting, there is still a lack of medical-specific training for ASL interpreters. The ASL Division of the IMIA is committed to bringing quality Medical Interpreter Training to the ASL interpreting community. Additionally, the ASL Division will work hard to promote awareness and education to the medical world, regarding Deafness, the role of the Interpreter, and the legal obligations of the medical facility to provide qualified, professional interpreters to all Deaf/Hard of Hearing patients, for whom ASL is their primary language.

Resource on Ebola in ASL - A collaboration with DeafHealth and Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University  

Registry for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Mano a Mano (Trilingual Interpreters - ASL/Spanish/English)

Certification of Sign Language Interpreters

ASL Interpreting Practitioner Needs Assessment Final Report

PINRAs through MassRID will require that the participant:
Contact the MassRID CMP (cmp@massrid.org) as soon as they register for the event at the event, collect a Certificate of Completion or some other proof of attendance fill out a PINRA form (supplied directly to the participant by the MassRID CMP) write a short Statement of Learning, explaining how what was learned will apply to the participant's work as an interpreter mail the PINRA form, copy of the proof of attendance, and the Statement of Learning to the MassRID CMP coordinator, along with a check for $10 made out to MassRID if the participant is not a member of MassRID.

A sign language (also signed language) is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns (manual communication, body language) to convey meaning—simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's thoughts.

Hundreds of sign languages are in use around the world and are at the cores of local Deaf cultures. Wherever communities of deaf people exist, sign languages develop. Their complex spatial grammars are markedly different from the grammars of spoken languages. Some sign languages have obtained some form of legal recognition, while others have no status at all.

Sign Language Interpreter Programs
Contrary to Spoken Language Interpreter Programs, many Sign Language Interpreter Programs do not require one to know sign language. You can learn the language while you learn how to become an interpreter. For a great list of programs searchable by state, go HERE

Legal Framework regarding sign language interpretation in the US
In the US, there is a more current form of legislation that ensures individuals with disabilities have access to public services: The ADA (The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act). Title II and III are most commonly referred to regarding provision of qualified interpreters. The ADA covers places of public accommodation including medical services, dental services, education (private and public) courts, jails, providers of services such as attorneys, counselors, places of employment etc...

The ADA does not cover the federal government, thus the federal government interpreter provisions fall under the 1973 Rehab Act Sec 504 and the Bilingual, Hearing, Speech-Impaired Court Interpreter Act of 1979.

Together the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehab Act prohibit discrimination based on disability outlining participatory communication access as a fundamental civil right. Interpreters fall under the "Auxiliary Aids and Services" as an accommodation.
To be qualified, an interpreter must be able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. Justice Department 28 C.F.R. § 35.104

Other countries have started to legislate regarding the right to an interpreter for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. For example, Brazil enacted a law in 2010, see IMIA Brazil page.

Emotion among Vanuatu deaf people at access to sign dictionary
Radio New Zealand International - A sign language trainer working in Vanuatu with New Zealand's Volunteer Service Abroad says deaf people there have had a very emotional response to the publication of a sign language dictionary. Jacqui Iseli compiled the dictionary of local or 'home ...

ASL Division Chair

ASL DivisionHeather Barclay
To send correspondence to Heather and the IMIA ASL Division, please email ASLDivision@imiaweb.org.

Linguist Heather Barclay, Ad Astra’s COO,  holds a degree in Linguistic Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is a  licensed medical interpreter  trainer has over 10 years hands-0n experience in the linguistic community as an American Sign Language Interpreter.    In the past decade Heather had trained and managed hundreds of  translators and interpreters for health and human service agencies,  medical institutions, and pharmaceutical companies.  In her current role Heather heads training and education at Ad Astra Inc. a full service linguistics agency.  Heather started her career providing accurate linguistic interpretation for the Deaf community, both from Sign to Voice and Voice to Sign, for a variety of agencies including the Pentagon, the United States Air Force, the Institute of Defense Analyses, the Federal Elections Commission, Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and other government, educational, and medical settings. Additionally, Ms. Barclay has served as an interpreter to the U.S. Department of State, interpreting for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for an internationally viewed Town Hall Meeting. Before heading Ad Astra’s operations, she worked as a department manager of General Language Services at ALSI and in this role was responsible for all scheduling, logistics, quality control, training and assessment for linguistic support services. In her current role she is responsible for all operational support including technical and managerial aspects of contract administration, quality control/ quality assurance processes, documentation and reporting, and education and training initiatives.

IMIA is currently looking for an ASL Division Vice Chairperson
For more information please email info@imiaweb.org.

Serving in a chapter, committee or division leadership role provides enormous opportunities, both professionally and personally. IMIA Chairs frequently find themselves becoming more successful in their own careers as they develop additional skills, make useful business connections, and share ideas with other division members. The IMIA Administration provides support and mentoring for their success. Preference shall be given to candidates with previous involvement in the activities of the organization.

To Apply for an IMIA Chairperson Position, See the Requirements (same as for IMIA Representation)

Vice Chairperson Responsibilities:
- To assist and work closely with the Chairperson in all their responsibilities as requested
- To assume the duties of the Chairperson when the chairperson is not present or available
- To apply for the chairperson position when the chairperson ends their term

To Apply for an IMIA Chairperson Position, See the Requirements of the Chairperson. All is the same except that only one letter of recommendation is needed, not two.

If you have any questions about applying please email info@imiaweb.org

Further information about the work of the committee or division, please email the appropriate chairperson.

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