People who want to use their American Sign Language skills professionally may consider careers as interpreters, teachers, linguists, speech pathologists, audiologists and social workers. ASL specialists are needed in diverse industries, such as medicine, law, education and social services. ASL professionals help deaf children and adults adapt and succeed in traditional environments, foster communication skills and advocate for deaf rights.
Audiologists, speech pathologists and linguists work to improve care and communication for deaf people. Audiologists study and evaluate cases of hearing loss to find the most effective treatments and lifestyle techniques for their patients. Linguists take a conceptual approach to communication by developing an advanced understanding of language patterns, while pathologists typically work with individual patients, helping them overcome communication disorders and function productively in everyday life.
Interpreters and teachers also have hands-on positions, bridging the gap between deaf and hearing individuals. Depending on the subject and grade level, teachers may also interpret lessons for deaf students, focus on building early language skills and guide parents in encouraging healthy development.
Social workers, lawyers and advocates work in a wide range of environments, including hospitals, schools, government agencies and substance abuse programs. ASL professionals with a strong interest in deaf rights may enjoy developing assistance programs and advocating for legislation that accommodates special needs. Many social workers also provide a support system for deaf people facing legal issues, adoptions or health care complications.