Indian Sign Language


Dr Renuka Rameshan is a distinguished figure and the President of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI), India. With over two decades of dedicated experience working with deaf individuals, she holds a Ph.D. in deaf education. Her illustrious career spans 25 years in the field of interpreting, where she has played a pivotal role in facilitating communication for the deaf community.

In this film, she has provided responses to these inquiries:

  • What is Sign Language Interpretation?
  • When did Sign Language gain popularity?
  • Where is the Indian Sign Language course offered?

In this video, Dr Renuka discusses Sign Language interpreting as a crucial process bridging communication gaps between deaf and hearing individuals. She traces the origins of Sign Language interpreting, initially within deaf families and later adopted by social workers. Dr Renuka emphasizes the significance of interpreters in supporting the development of deaf individuals, and she highlights institutions offering the diploma.

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(Renuka, Sumanth and chatting with each other in Indian Sign Language)

Sign Language interpreting is the process of replaying information between a deaf person and a hearing person.

This is facilitating the communication between these two people because the languages are different.

One uses Sign Language to communicate and another uses a spoken language.

So an interpreter is someone who is bilingual, who knows both the languages, that is Sign Language plus the spoken language used by the hearing person so whatever is being spoken will be signed and relayed to the deaf person and then whatever is uh done and signed is communicated in sign by a deaf person, is spoken, ‘translated’ in other words, in real time and conveyed to the hearing person.

Hello, I am Girl+C

That’s my sign name, I am Charu, working at Hear A Million at Enable India Bangalore.

Sorry, retake.

No problem.


Sign Language interpreting started off in uh families where there were deaf children, usually the parents or the siblings would start interpreting for the deaf family member and then social workers picked it up as a way of advocating and being the voice for the deaf people.

The course, as such in India, to learn Sign Language interpreting started off in 2000.

It was earlier only a 3-month level course as A, B and C and C-Level course was much later for 3 months, which was uh, which had focus on Sign Language interpreting.

Initially it was, again, members, family members of deaf people that enrolled in the course and later as visibility grew, as there were more interpreters around on TV, for the news interpreting and so on, people, the laymen started picking up and enrolling as students.

For example, I uh met some deaf people and an interpreter when I was in college and I just fell in love with the language and I wanted to learn and there was no course at that time.

I just started you know, pestering the deaf people to teach me and the need for interpreting pushed me into this, before I even knew what interpreting was.

So once I knew the basics of the language, very little bit, then the deaf people would ask me to come and talk to their boss or call their warden or get permission for leave and so on and I started becoming interpreter without even knowing that that is what interpreting is called and what I was doing was in fact interpreting.

Now there is course which is, after the 3-month course it became a one-year diploma, diploma in Sign Language Interpreting.

Presently it’s a course that’s for 2 years and DISLI it is called, it’s approved by the RCI, anyone can enroll and be certified as interpreters.


The diploma in Indian Sign Language interpreting course, DISLI, is offered at many institutions in India, such as the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre in New Delhi (ISLRTC), The National Institute of Speech and Hearing at Trivandrum (NISH), Ramakrishna Mission University in Coimbatore and Ali Yavar Jung National Institute in Mumbai, Kolkata and other places as well.

This is a 2 year diploma that anyone can enroll in and receive certification upon completion and they will be qualified as Sign Language interpreters.


So, for deaf people’s development, interpreters uh support and uh working together with interpreters is very key.

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