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ARC Deaf Culture ASL Studies

What is American Sign Language?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language. With signing, the brain processes linguistic information through the eyes. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements, all play important parts in conveying information.

Sign language is not a universal language -- each country has its own sign language, and regions have dialects, much like the many languages spoken all over the world. Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. Like all languages, ASL is a living language that grows and changes over time.

ASL is used predominantly in the United States and in many parts of Canada. ASL is accepted by many high schools, colleges, and universities in fulfillment of modern and "foreign" language academic degree requirements across the United States. (

What is Deaf Culture?

Deaf Culture is the heart of the Deaf community everywhere in the world. Language and culture are inseparable. They are intertwined and passed down through generations of Deaf people.

The Deaf community is not based on geographic proximity like Chinatown or the Italian District for example. The Deaf community is comprised of culturally Deaf people in the core of the community who use a sign language (e.g. American Sign Language or Langue des Signes Quebecois) and appreciate their heritage, history, literature, and culture.

The Deaf community is also comprised of other individuals who use the language and have an attitude that makes them an accepted part of the community though they may not be in the core of the community. It exists because of the need to get together, the need to relax and enjoy everything while being together.

Deaf culture exists because Deaf people who are educated at residential Deaf schools develop their own Deaf network once they graduate, to keep in touch with everyone. Most of them go on to take on leadership positions in the Deaf community, organize Deaf sports, community events, etc. and become the core of the Deaf community. They ensure that their language and heritage are passed to other peers and to the next generation. They also form links with parents and siblings of Deaf children to strengthen and enlarge the community circle for Deaf children. (

How can I learn more about the interpreting profession, in general, and the American River College Interpreter Preparation Program (ARC IPP), specifically?

Take the SILA 362: Introduction to the Interpreting Profession Saturday class.  It is a one-day, all day Saturday class offered at the beginning of each semester.  An overview of the interpreting profession and specifics about the ARC IPP are discussed. Check the online schedule.

What are the pre-requisites for entry into the ARC IPP?

The pre-requisites include: Graduation from an accredited high school, ASL 4, Eligibility for ENGRD 310 or 312, a completed enrollment application.

I already know American Sign Language. Do I still have to take American Sign Language I, II, III?

If you have taken ASL courses at another institution, make an appointment with an ARC counselor to see if the course is transferrable. 

If I am currently enrolled in ASL 4, can I still apply for the ARC IPP

Yes, you can take ASL 4 during the same semester that you apply.  However, during the screening process, we have noted greater success among those students who have also completed ASL 5 and Deaf Culture courses prior to applying to the program.  

When are the ARC IPP courses offered?

Typically, the courses are offered on Monday and Wednesday late afternoon and evening.  During the final semester, when students complete a culminating fieldwork course, additional days and hours are required.  Also, work with a counselor to see about completing the required ASL and Deaf Culture courses that are typically offered on other days.  

Do I need a bachelor's degree in order to enter the program and to be a working interpreter?

Students do not need a bachelor's degree in order to enroll in the ARC IPP. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf requires a bachelor's degree in order to take the National Interpreting Certificate (NIC).  For more information see  The Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment, another skills assessment, does not require the bachelor's degree.  For more information see   The bachelor's degree can be in any field.  Some students entering the ARC IPP already have a bachelor's degree in another field.  Students who do not have a bachelor's degree have often transferred to the CSUS Deaf Studies, Communication Studies, or other program. 

Will I be a certified interpreter when I finish the program?

No.  You will receive either an AA degree or Certificate of Completion.  The difference is the general education requirement for the AA degree.  To become a certified interpreter, you must take either the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf National Interpreting Certificate or the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment.   

What is the pay like for ASL/English interpreters?

The rate of pay for beginning level interpreters in northern California ranges between $10 - $15 per hour, with highly qualified interpreters earning $30 - $60 per hour.  Salaries will vary depending on many factors including certification, education, geographic area and educational credentials. Some interpreters work as independent contractors and earn from a $18-$60/hour. Generally, they do not schedule a full forty hours per week nor do they typically get employee benefits.  Other interpreters work full-time for an agency, business, video relay service, government organization or educational institution.  Depending on many factors, these staff employees may earn anywhere between $15,000-$50,000+ per year.  You may want to call interpreter referral agencies, video relay providers or educational institution to get specific information about the area of interpreting that interests you. 


Dean:  Diana Hicks
Admin. Asst.: Liliya Dorofeyev
Phone:  (916) 484-8653
Fax:  (916) 484-8366
CoordinatorJill Birchall
Videophone: (916) 877-8520


Mondays: 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM
Tuesdays: 3:15 to 8:30 PM
Wednesdays: 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM
Thursdays: 3:15 to 8:30 PM