At first glance, one thinks they know what this means; however, it is misleading. Interpreters who use ASL are typically called 'sign language' or 'ASL' interpreters depending on certification. They do not only interpret for deaf people, also hearing people. So 'deaf interpreters' is misleading.
So, what's the point, then? Deaf people can be interpreters. What? No way! (Those who have experienced using/meeting deaf interpreters know this to be true).
Think about Spanish interpreters, there are certain percentages who are native speakers. This means the language and cultural knowledge and life experience gives them a distinct advantage over non-native users.
This is the same case with hearing children of deaf parents, as well as deaf people who are native/natural ASL users. They have this intrinsic knowledge of their culture and language to be able to move between two languages.
Okay, besides the fact that we can't hear, there are jobs we do often: mirror, translation of signed or written information, deaf-blind interpretation, and deaf/hearing team interpretation. One unique feature is sign language translation, reserved mostly for gatherings at international conferences. We can adjust to the language skill level of our clients. There are some hard of hearing people who, if in the right kind of environment, can interpret at the same level as a hearing interpreter, voicing/signing.
It is by most, not an easy job. One needs to have a good working knowledge of English in order to accurately translate information. Even if one has a life experience, it is still recommended to attend workshops and get certification. RID offers certification called 'Certified Deaf Interpreter'. There Is working research on the benefits of having a DI working with hearing sign lang. interpreters.
Benefits? Most interpreters I know will refuse to work or consider having a DI simply because we're ... gasp... deaf. in the major cities, there are DIs working among hearing peers, not so in the urban/rural areas. I know a few who have used or would love a DI working with them. There are about 30-40 CDIs working across the nation. I know a few and they share that they have been subpoenaed a few times to go to court because they have day jobs.
Here is another source of income for deaf people, becoming interpreters/translators. It is not an easy job, but one that suits some deaf people, have good understanding of ASL/English and still highly recommend training. One needs to maintain a professional conduct (draw the line between work/social action), not an easy feat.
Deaf Interpreter Institute; http://www.diinstitute.org/
Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf; http://www.rid.org
National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers; http://www.interpretereducation.org/
To Be Whole
Currently I am an ASL teacher at a local college and at an high school. I received my Masters in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University. At home, I am an activist within the community, Northwest Indiana. My son is in first grade and my daughter goes to E.C.L.I.P.S.E. ASL Preschool. Change begins with you and change is effective with a team.