Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from A.M., New York

What is the difference between a sign skills coach and an interpreter?

Question from A.M., New York. Posted March 16, 2012.
Response from Linda Siple - NTID

The position of “Signing Skills Coach” originated from the one-on-one position referred to as a Skills Coach. A skills coach is an individual who works along side of a student/client and assists with the learning of a task/job.  For example, a skills coach might work with a developmentally disabled individual to learn the job of a dish washer.   A “Signing Skills Coach” is an individual who knows sign language and functions as  a skills coach with a student/client who is deaf, hard-of-hearing or in some circumstances hearing but can benefit from sign (e.g., some individuals with autism, Downs Syndrome, etc.).  The requirements are that the coach have intermediate to advanced signing skills and basic skills in consecutive interpreting.

A sign language interpreter is fluent in ASL (or other natural sign language) and all forms of signed English (or other spoken language). An interpreter would work between the hearing and deaf person but not teach the deaf person a skill.  Interpreters can work consecutively but tend to work simultaneously.