Certificate in Signed Language Translation


RIT/NTID is pleased to announce a new Certificate in Signed Language Translation (CSLT) which will be launched in September 2024. The focus of this non-credit certificate is on translation between ASL and English and (other signed languages). Instruction will be provided by mostly Deaf instructors and designed for learners who have SLPI rating of Advanced Plus or ASLPI skills with 4+. According to Schaffner (2020), translation is among the fastest-growing professions today, with a growing global marketplace for language services and localization. Translation Studies is a growing discipline in academia. The demand for qualified translators is growing worldwide. To meet the needs of the market, translators need more than bilingual fluency. Translators also should have theoretical knowledge and understanding of translation-based technologies.

In this certificate program, participants will acquire a foundation in translation theories and receive opportunities to apply tools, methods, and approaches to translating a variety of text types in accordance with best practices. Participants will engage with issues including translation as an act of social justice, social restoration, linguistic oppression, and audism. The aim of this program is to create translators who possess the knowledge and skills to be effective members of the profession. With its specific focus on Deaf translators, the training fills a gap in the discipline of Translation Studies. The goal of the program is to cultivate Deaf translators, CODA translators, BIPOC translators, and hearing sign language translators who will contribute to the development of translation studies and the advancement of translators.

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ASLIE is an Approved RID CMP Sponsor for continuing education activities.The Certificate in Sign Language Translation is a Professional Studies (PS) program offering up to 10.0 CEUs at the Some Content Knowledge Level.​ (The program also includes some instructional material which counts toward RID CMP’s Power, Privilege, and Oppression requirement.) Should you need an accommodation, please contact Dr. Janis Cole-Patterson at jicnss@rit.edu. This certificate program upholds nondiscriminatory practices and encourages a learning environment which is free from bias and promotes mutual respect.

The program examines the historical significance of translation and draws on insights and practices from the field of literary translation. It addresses current debates among translators and translation scholars about how best to translate literary texts. This is a rich and complex question because translation is not just a straightforward matter of exchanging words in one language for words in another. The matter of translation also involves cultural, social, aesthetic, political, economic and ethical considerations. The modules are structured to provide Deaf bilingual (ASL/English) individuals and hearing individuals with an opportunity to learn, improve, and expand their knowledge and skills in signed and written translations that are currently in high demand within the language services industry. The modules offer valuable techniques used by a good translator in the translation between ASL and English. The course offers every facet of the translation process: the complex process of rendering meaning from a source language/culture into a target language/culture.

Participants will gain experience working with a full range of texts from legal documents, business reports, and medical records to literary works, academic research, and marketing. They will develop critical analytical skills to question the traditional understanding of the relationships between the original and translated text, between author and translator, and the source and target languages and cultures. The course will teach learners to critically analyze and translate documents with accuracy, equivalency and integrity, with an understanding and application of different styles of translation. Throughout the course, it will be viewed as socio-cultural and ethical activities as well as linguistic ones.

After completing this program, the participants will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the historical development of translation, relevant theories, and approaches to translation as well as associated terminology
  2. Explore the variety of definitions of translation and their implications as well as common misconceptions
  3. Apply theory to inform and justify decision-making
  4. Explain the decision-making processes involved in approaches to translation of specific texts and produce translations of different discourse genres, effectively rendering translations that are equivalent, conceptually accurate, and culturally appropriate.
  5. Develop strategies and choices and recognize translation as a scholarly work.
  6. Critically analyze, reflect and articulate how language, power, privilege and oppression impact translation decisions including issues of social justice, language attitudes, historical and current linguistic oppression, and audism
  7. Demonstrate an understanding and application of metalinguistic and extralinguistic knowledge as well as the complexities of the multilingual and multimodal nature of translation practice
  8. Evaluate the accuracy and effectiveness of translations of specific texts produced by themselves and others and provide appropriate feedback
  9. Demonstrate an understanding of the practice profession of translation including ethics, business practices, professional development and collegiality and teamwork
  10. Apply knowledge of technology to assist in producing accurate translations (including but not limited to recording/editing of video, use of glossaries and dictionaries, and hardware and software for captioning/subtitling)
  11. Define the meaning of a qualified professional translator
  12. Critically reflect on translation products

The non-credit Certificate in Signed Language Translation (CSLT) program is delivered using an online blended format. Two-thirds of the instructions will occur synchronously in a video platform and one-third will be asynchronous (completed independently by participants). The 16-week program runs from January through May. Participants meet twice weekly via video during evenings (Eastern Time (ET)). Class assignments include weekly readings and reflective discussions, use of video materials and hands-on activities. Participants should plan on scheduling an average of seven hours per week for successful engagement in this program.

Course Content

Module 1: History of Translation
Module 2: Theories and Approaches to Translation
Module 3: Social Justice, Power, Privilege and Oppression in Translation
Module 4: Discourse and Text Analysis for Translators
Module 5: The Translation Profession: Ethics, Associations, and Professional Development
Module 6: Translation in Specialized Domains (i.e. Legal, Medical, Business, Theatre)
Module 7: Technological Tools for Translation
Module 8: Internship: Observation and Practice Translation
Module 9: Capstone Project and Portfolio

Module 1: History of Translation
History of translation, including evolution of theories and the role of the translator, text types. Such scholars as Nida, Toury, Hatim, Baker, and Mason

Module 2: Theories and Approaches to Translation
Principles and concepts of translation including: translation theories, approaches to texts, (literal vs. dynamic equivalence, Skopos theory, etc.), terminology (source vs. target languages, texts genres), engaging with peers and clients in discussion translation approaches

Module 3: Race, Gender, Sexuality, Power, Privilege and Oppression in Translation
This module takes a critical look at issues of race, gender, sexuality, power, privilege and oppression in translated texts and in the translation profession; help learners understand why translation matters so deeply; helps us reflect upon the cultural values of ourselves and others; facilitates or impedes cross-cultural communication; enables the cross pollination of ideas and literary innovations; and reinforces or subverts all sorts of established power imbalances. Translation in the broadest sense; originality, authority, authorship, accuracy, ownership, audience; and the role of power and privilege in translation; use of language as a means of connection, hybrid identities, that foster constructive interactions between cultures, histories, and languages; reflection and engagement in the practice of translation as a way of honing linguistic and cultural competency.

Module 4: Discourse and Text Analysis for Translators
Principles and concepts of language and linguistics, including; levels of language use (phonology, morphology, etc.), discourse analysis, pragmatics, concepts of multimodality, bilingualism, and language attitudes. This module will focus with written and signed language texts to develop an understanding of micro-textual elements and macro-textual structures and patterns, and understand how to analyze both written and signed language texts.

Module 5: The Translation Profession: Ethics, Associations, and Professional Development
Principles and concepts of decision making, ethics and professionalism including: accepting/rejecting assignments (based on text genre, cultural and linguistic appropriateness, etc.), self-reflection and self-analysis, community of practice engagement, and continued professional development.

Module 6: Translation in Specialized Domains
Translation exercises with different text types from a variety of contexts including legal, academia materials, education, healthcare, business, poetry, public service announcements, theater, K-12, discussion of translation works; relevant vocabulary; alternative strategies; issues related to craft, context, and practice of translation.

Module 7: Technological Tools for Translation
The use of technology in translation practice including: dictionaries/glossaries, socio-culturally appropriate resources to inform translations, computer tools, recording/editing/video production, proofing tools, video subtitling; storage and maintenance of source and target materials.

Module 8: Internship: Observation and Translation in Practice
Students will engage in real-world translation projects to make resources accessible and expand what translators do and put into practice that students have learned in class.

Module 9: Capstone Project and Portfolio
Students will translate a text in their area of expertise under the supervision of area, translation, and language specialists

Apply Online

Applicant Criteria

The following criteria will be used to select applicants to participate in this program:

  1. Bilingual Proficiency (ASL and English)
  2. Must commit to completing the entire program (no refunds will be given)

Application Process and Plan

Application process for the ASLIE Certificate in Signed Language Translation:

  1. Applicant’s personal statement (ASL evaluation - Submit YouTube link):
    ASL video (3-5 minutes video)
    1. What draws you to the translation program? (Include any experience you have, if applicable.)
    2. What does translation mean to you?
  2. In 250 words or less, what do you hope to do with the knowledge gained from this program? (written English)
  3. Educational Degrees (written English)
    Please list your educational background, college, degree award, major, year


The following criteria will be used to select applicants to participate in this program:

  1. Application
  2. Link to ASL Video (personal statement)

**Deadline for application has been extended to June 30, 2024.

CSLT Application Form

Program Payment

If you have been notified of acceptance into the NTID Certificate in Signed Language Translation program, please contact Bre Haywood (bre.haywood@rit.edu) for payment.

The full cost for the certificate program is $1,600.

You may pay for the certificate program in full ($1,600), or pay in two installments of $800.

The due dates for payments are:

  • August 16, 2024 - first installment or full tuition
  • Nov 15, 2024 - second installment

Program Personnel

Coordinator: Janis Cole-Patterson, Ph.D., RSC., CDI

Janis Cole-Patterson, Ph.D., RSC, CDI, Feminist, ASL/English Interpreter/Translator; Educator/Consultant, and social justice community advocate/forum leader/facilitator. Janis has worked as an educator, interpreter and translator for over 40 years. She holds a Ph.D. in Interpreting and Translation from Gallaudet University. Her dissertation examined the lived experiences of Deaf translators. She is actively involved in both interpreting and translating, as both a practitioner and in scholarly research and publication.

Contact Us

Janis Cole-Patterson, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator and Instructor
ASL and Interpreting Education (ASLIE)
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester Institute of Technology
60 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York 14623