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American Sign Language: Certification required to teach?

In a message dated 6/15/2006 7:10:53 PM Pacific Daylight Time, rhp6901@ writes:

Dear Dr. Vicars,
I have two questions: (I know you must be bombarded by lots of questions, if you don't have time, I understand)

Does a person have to be] certified to teach sign language classes? If I wanted to teach sign language for babies, must I be certified? I gather from [what you've written elsewhere], some areas you can get away without be certified and in other areas, certification would be required.
Thank you very much,
Heather Pienkos

In general you do NOT have to be certified:
* To teach ASL in most community education settings.
* To open up your own business and invite students to take classes. (But you will likely need a business license.)
* To teach ASL training workshops as a visiting instructor or consultant in a corporate setting.
* To teach classes in your home.

Here are some circumstances wherein you are likely to need some kind of certification or approval:
* You may have to get approval from your state if you claim that your ASL program prepares and qualifies your students for employment. Check with your State's division of occupational licensing and or department of Education.  For example if you state in your advertising brochures or website that you course prepares someone to "interpret for the Deaf" or that you are offering "interpreter training" you may fall under certain state guidelines that oversee the establishment and management of schools.

* If you teach ASL in a public K-12 school setting, it is likely that you will need to be certified by your state's teacher credentialing program. As time goes on, more and more states are setting up specific certification for public school system ASL educators

* Some state higher education systems require instructors to show proof of certification in ASL in order to teach in state run colleges and universities.  But, believe it or not, it is generally easier to get a job teaching part time at a college than it is to get a full time position teaching in a public K-12 school setting.  Some colleges will actually hire you to be an adjunct instructor with no degree and no certification.  I put myself through college that way, grin.
Dr. Bill
Shifting topics...

Certification testing:

Quite frankly I've never liked the idea of stressful, subjective, opinionated, "certification testing." I think it is asinine.  I much prefer the idea of "ability documenting" via a process of real-time unlimited instant feedback based on objective criteria.   For example, suppose we state that we want to know if someone is good enough to "interpret" numbers?  We can objectively state that "good enough" means being able to "catch" 7 digit numbers accurately on the first try 9 out of 10 times when those numbers are presented at a speed of 3 digits per second.
That is an objective measure there is no discrimination or bias involved. You either can do it or you can't.
Plus using a computer program in the privacy of your own home you could practice again and again until you reach a success rate of well over 9 out of 10 times at a speed faster than 3 digits per second.  This would then be documented by the program itself and you would simply move on to the next skill that needs to be documented.  Some people would move through the "ability documenting" process very quickly, others would take many times longer. 
Candidates would be free to "fail" the test a massive number of times, privately, without embarrassment, or additional expense.
Other people, including those leaders of the "certifying organization" would not know of a candidate's progress until that candidate has already mastered the skill being documented.  Additionally, such leaders would have no say in whether individuals receive documentation.  The documentation is automatically achieved when the objective criteria is met.   If organizational leaders feel that the quality of current candidates' performance should be higher, then the target criteria for future candidates is raised.  For example, from 7 digit numbers to 8 digit numbers.
Critics will say, "Sure, that works for documenting simple number recognition skills, but such an approach wouldn't work for complex grammar structures."
To which I reply that just as some software programs are now "better at English grammar" than most English speakers, there will come a day when gesture recognition software programs will be better at ASL grammar than most ASL speakers.  This will sound preposterous to contemporary readers of this article, but will seem patently obvious to future historians.
Dr. Bill

Also see:
Teaching ASL >
Dr. Bill's RPM Teaching Method >



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