Why study ASL Interpreting at MC?

Maryville College developed the first bachelor’s degree program in interpreting for the languages of American Sign Language (ASL), spoken English and English-influenced forms of sign language in the United States. Faculty credentials include degrees in teaching interpreting, ASLTA professional certification, and National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf certification.

ASL and interpreting staff include Deaf consultants in interpreting course sessions and experienced, certified interpreting mentors. Community resources include a vibrant Deaf community, our neighbors–Tennessee School for the Deaf–local interpreting service community centers, and other employers of interpreters. A related major that focuses on the language and Deaf culture is ASL & Deaf Studies.

Sign language interpreting opens communication when people who are Deaf or Deaf-blind interact with the hearing world to buy a home, adopt a child, take a cruise, take classes, book a flight, order sushi, or interview for a job. Interpret outside at an environmental camp, youth conservation corps, summer camp, or national park. Work at a video relay center in any region of the country or interpret through video remote. The national demand for sign language interpreters far exceeds the supply. Opportunities for interpreters allow for skilled professional interpreters to direct their own businesses or thrive as staff interpreters, interpret solo or as members of interpreter teams, and specialize in different settings, such as education, health care, or legal. The major also prepares students for advanced study in Interpreting and related fields.


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Maryville College Works is a comprehensive career preparation program that is integrated into the College’s four-year liberal arts curriculum. Key components include assessment, advising, networking and professional experiences.

External Relationships

Knoxville Center of the Deaf
Knoxville Tennessee Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Sorenson Video Relay Center, Knoxville
Tennessee Association of the Deaf (Knoxville)
Tennessee School for the Deaf


Meet a current student

Heidi Vowell ’17
Hometown: Clinton, Tenn.

As the daughter of Deaf parents, Heidi thought she knew all there was to know about American Sign Language (ASL) since she had interpreted for them her entire life. But declaring a major in ASL-English Interpreting, she realized there was much more to learn. After graduation, she plans to work as a freelance interpreter and eventually go to graduate school. “This interpreting program teaches real-world applications, in a hands-on environment, that I am excited to apply to my professional career and to my life’s work with the Deaf community,” she said.

Outcomes of Recent Grads

Featured Graduate

Nicholas norman '16

Currently: Contract/Freelance Interpreter with Deaf-Connect of the Mid-South
After graduating from MC, Nicholas went back to his hometown of Memphis, TN, to work as a Contract/Freelance Interpreter. He is on his way to becoming Nationally Certified. As interpreting is his passion, he is planning to attend Gallaudet University to obtain his Master's in Interpreting with a focus on Medical and Political Interpreting. Nicholas is actively involved in the Deaf Community along with the Community of Interpreters for the Tennessee region of RID. With much enthusiasm, Nicholas plans to stand side by side with government officials in Washington D.C. to provide equal communication access to those using American Sign Language to communicate.

Folami Ford ’00

Currently: Staff Interpreter with Gallaudet Interpreting Service in Washington, D.C.
After graduating from MC, Folami earned a master’s degree in interpretation from Gallaudet University. Her certifications include NIC Master, CI and CT from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Committed to lifelong learning, she is currently completing the Ph.D. in Interpretation program at Gallaudet, the first and only such program in the profession. Her areas of interest include examining the role of intersectionality within the interpreting profession, mentoring interpreters and teaching interpreting. Folami is actively involved in the National Alliance of Black Interpreters (NAOBI) DC Chapter and is passionate about working with Deaf and interpreting communities of the African Diaspora.

Job Placements

Alabama Department of Mental Health Central Office
Community Advocacy Network
East Tennessee Technology Access Center
Knoxville Center of the Deaf
Knox County Schools
Pellissippi State Technical Community College
Sign Language Specialists of Western PA, Inc.
Sorenson Communications

Graduate School Placements

Gallaudet University
George Mason University
University of Tennessee-Knoxville