American Sign Language
American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language in which the brain processes linguistic information through the eyes. It is a complete, natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken language, with grammar that differs from English. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands; facial expressions; and body movements all play a role in conveying information. It is the primary language of many North Americans who are deaf and hard or hearing.
Sign language is not a universal language. Each country has its own sign language and regions have dialects, similar to spoken languages across the world. Sign language is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax and is a living language that grows and changes over time.
According to the American Disabilities Act, A “qualified” interpreter means someone who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively (i.e., understanding what the person with the disability is saying) and expressively (i.e., having the skill needed to convey information back to that person) using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
Interpreters may hold certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), National Association for the Deaf (NAD). RID and NAD certified interpreters have met the respective organization’s stringent professional guidelines by passing both practical and performance skill based examinations are not only “qualified” under ADA, but are also professionally committed to a strict code of professional ethics, subject to nationally administered grievance resolution processes, and required to maintain a high level of continuing professional skill development.
Quality assurance assessments from the state ensure that those who are providing specific services are meeting particular levels of skills and professional behaviors.
Regardless of an ASL interpreter’s certification level, Joyful Signing screens every interpreter through a personal interview, assessment of English to ASL and ASL to English proficiency. All Joyful Signing Interpreters are deemed qualified for assignments that they are assigned.
Wherever in doubt, ask and interpreters should always be able and willing to provide you with proof of their credentials.
Joyful Signing takes representation very seriously. Ensuring that an interpreter is a good fit for the assignment depends on various factors including skill level and when appropriate, culture representation. Having a diverse pool of interpreters allows for Joyful Signing to build trust within the Deaf Community, have a level of understanding of different dialects in American Sign Language (ASL) and as a recruitment tool to inspire the next generation of interpreters.
In sensitive settings such as legal, medical, and or social justice arenas, having culturally appropriate interpreters who have mutual understanding of cultural experience within those settings can help to build trust with our Deaf consumer(s). Our team will work with the hiring entity to guarantee that any cultural sensitivity needs are addressed.
ASL is not universal and has its own dialect. The dialect can be based upon region accents such as New York vs. California or by race such as Black Sign Language. Depending on the assignment details, an interpreter with the appropriate culture background would be a more qualified match versus someone who is not from that community.
As an organization that is committed to being “forward thinking while backwards reaching”, Joyful Signing commits to making space for the next generation of interpreters. Having a diverse pool of interpreters allows for the Deaf community and future interpreters to see themselves in our work, and hopefully inspires then to pursue an interpreting career.
A Deaf interpreter (DI) is a Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing individual that possesses excellent communication skills in both American Sign Language and English. The DI has completed training on the role and ethics of an interpreter, and may also possess specialized training and/or experience in use of the following: gesture, mime, props, drawings, home signs, and matching sentence structure and language development of the Deaf consumer for whom they are interpreting. The DI has an extensive knowledge and understanding of deafness, the Deaf community, and/or Deaf culture. This valuable awareness brings expertise when working as a team with a hearing sign language interpreter. DIs are appropriate for many settings including:
- press conferences to large audiences
- Deaf Youth
- developmentally disabled Deaf person
- someone using non-standard American Sign Language (ASL) or a unique dialect of ASL;
- a deaf person who uses a foreign sign language;
- a victim;
- a deaf person overwhelmed by the pace of the interpreting process;
- and again, in a variety of legal situations
The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the national certifying body for sign language interpreters, awards certification to deaf interpreters, after they pass an extensive written and performance test. This group of interpreters is referred to as Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs).
Joyful Signing is a 2019 Top 100 MBE Award Recipient
This award recognizes minority entrepreneurs that fuel the region’s economy.
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clients are saying.
"Joyful Signing, LLC provides consistently high quality support for making our library's programs and services more accessible to customers. We are particularly grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with a locally-owned business that shares our values and commitment to public service."
Nicholas Brown, COO for Communication and Outreach, Prince George's County Memorial Library System
“The Joyful Signing team is always a pleasure to work with. They always reply to our requests quickly and are able to accommodate all of our varying show needs. The team is prompt and professional and goes out of their way to provide a personalized experience for each guest. We regularly receive guest feedback stating how much they enjoy their interactions with the interpreters.”
Taylor Winstead, Senior Manager Entertainment
“Joyful Signing has provided amazing ASL and Closed Captioning support for large public webinars for hundreds of people. Their team is responsive, professional and a JOY to work with. Even if we haven't had a specific request for ASL or Closed Captioning, offering these options greatly enhances the experience for everyone. The ASL providers are so expressive, and the ability to read captions means no one--hearing or not--ever has to miss a beat.”
Kana Hammon, Race Forward
“I am thrilled to share my enthusiasm for the team at Joyful Signing. I have watched this team grow and evolve into a caring, thoughtful, and committed member to the greater Washington metropolitan community. I have seen the Joyful team serve clients and engage audiences at both MGM National Harbor and the Something in the Water Music Festival. Each interpreter demonstrates professionalism and a cheerful attitude. My company was fortunate to work with us during our recent LEGENDS Gala at the Anthem on the District Wharf. Joyful provided interpreters for our guests and during our concert featuring Tony! Tone! Toni! and Joy was exceptional. We can’t recommend them enough!”
Saletta Coleman, Good Luck PR Partner
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At Joyful Signing, we are committed to providing excellent customer service for our customers and D/deaf and Hard-of-Hearing consumers through clear and accurate communication. If you’d like to hire our interpreters for your next event, or are interested in joining our team, use the links below to get in touch.