Sign courses rise in popularity

Ariel Desantiago/The Collegian TR students Kayela Denison and Asher Kunz practice sign language in class.
Ariel Desantiago/The Collegian TR students Kayela Denison and Asher Kunz practice sign language in class.


After the movie “CODA” won an Oscar this year, TCC has noticed that interest to become an American Sign Language interpreter has risen.

CODA is a term used in the Deaf community, which means “Child of Deaf Adults,” and the movie displays the everyday life of how important an interpreter is for a deaf family.

“I think there will be more people wanting to join the interpreting program, and I’m all for it,” TR professor of ASL Cheryl Sohns said. 

She said this is just the beginning of the effects of the movie on the Deaf community.

“Sign language isn’t like other languages,” she said. “It takes a lot of different skills that are learned over several years starting with ASL 1 and working up to ASL 4. Once students join the program, they fall in love with the language and want to learn more about the culture.”

Staff in the ASL program have already been informed of class sizes potentially increasing in the fall, Sohns said.

TR professor of ASL Randal King stressed the importance of interpreters in the Deaf community and how they make a bigger difference than most people think.

“After seeing the movie, more people will know what it’s like for the Deaf community to be short on interpreters, and it will encourage them to join the program,” King said. “There are a lot of important places that require an interpreter. For example, in the hospital for a deaf individual, if there isn’t an interpreter, then it would create a real challenge.”

However, the communication between interpreters and Deaf people can be challenging sometimes due to differently learned signs.

Both ASL professors share the sentiment that most of the students who have gone through the program at TCC find success.

TR interpreter/practicum coordinator Maureen Denner said going through the program at TCC was great for her, and she hopes many will go through it just like she did.

Denner said the lack of interpreters has caused there to only be one interpreter for every 500 deaf individuals, and that one person can’t interpret for all of them at the same time.

“Interpreting doesn’t even feel like a job,” Denner said. “To me, I see it as fun. Yes, it takes a few years to learn the skills, but once that’s out of the way, the fun begins.”