Nancy Quintilone, CT

Journey of an Interpreter

I have been signing since I was nine years old. I picked up sign language through church and went through 12 years of classes at Norfolk Christian Schools. After that, I obtained my B.A. at Virginia Wesleyan College in 1989. I began my career as a sign language interpreter with the Norfolk Public School (NPS) system directly upon graduation and have remained there since. I became nationally certified with my CT in January 2009.

I began taking week long workshops or sign language institutes as early as the summer of 1989, right after graduating from New River Community College (NRCC) in Dublin, VA. I returned in the summer of 1992. I also took many sign language institutes through the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDBH) in Hampton, VA. They offered workshops, classes, etc. I started taking the written Virginia Quality Assurance Screening (VQAS) through the Virginia Department of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) located in Richmond, VA, in December 1989. The school system and state required yearly testing until level three or national certification was obtained. I was granted extensions and lower pay until those goals were met. It took me seven times and three years before I passed the written test. It took me 16 years of testing for the state to achieve level three. I was then qualified to work in the school system. I gained my level three credential while pursuing national certification. I took many region two grant workshops that were provided yearly through the school system. I attended Gallaudet University in the summer of 1999 for two weeks and went to Tampa, FL, for the World Silent Weekend 2001.

After September 11, 2001, I moved to my present high school, while working full time with NPS. I took four community college courses through Tidewater Community College (TCC) at the Chesapeake campus and had over 50 plus hours of mentoring with a nationally certified mentor in Virginia Beach. I continued this course with the help of mentors in Chesapeake, VA. I completed my training through the STEP training program and a mentor in Richmond, VA. I videotaped myself interpreting a variety of topics from television; I took several online computer courses (videotape) and many audio books. I also continued taking classes from Pat Trice, CT, in Richmond, VA. She stressed voice recording onto a hand held tape player, watching videotapes and logging on to The computer proved to supply many interpreter training sources.

I have been freelancing around my NPS hours within the Deaf community in order to keep my skills up. I finally passed the written portion of the RID test the last time it was offered in 2003 after taking an online course through Gallaudet University on ASL community and culture and Signs of Development’s online study group on how to pass the written test. I passed the CT the last time it was offered in December 2008. I took the written portion five times and the performance portion four times. I have been a member of RID for 20 years. I started paying the associate rate when I decided to become nationally certified. I also took part in the Association Continuing Education Tracking (ACET) program which is a GREAT way for keeping track of your CEUs prior to achieving certification. The ACET program also helped with the school system as proof of all the work I was doing from year-to-year.

I have tried many roads to certification. I tried special diets one year—didn’t work. I brought in religion and had over 600 parishioners all over the country pray for my success—didn’t work. I tried hypnotism—didn’t work. Tried fasting—didn’t work. I took my dog to the test—success!

I believe that the whole process was a great learning experience for me. As I look back over the past few years, I can see a tremendous amount of growth both personally and professionally within my God given career as a sign language interpreter.

DO NOT GIVE UP if you really want something. I had a very interesting tour for the past 35 years on the road to success. I think that is what kept me motivated up until the last time I took the test. I was as relaxed and positive as I could be for that test, and I’m sure it helped. My certification has helped me realize that I am still doing the best I can to interpret to the best of my ability every day, whether at school or at any freelance job. I am certified and qualified to do my job.