Sign Language Interpreting

Bachelor Degree Programme

Sign language interpreters are experts in communication between the hearing and the deaf: Extensive knowledge of Austrian sign language as well as a deep understanding of linguistic and socio-cultural characteristics of both language cultures enables them to lift language barriers.

Degree Programme - an overview

Sign Language Interpreter
Bachelor of Science in
Health Studies (BSc)
Organisational form
6 semesters, full-time, 180 ECTS
Language of instruction
Number of study places
25 per admission cycle
Tuition fees
€ 363,36 per semester +
contribution to study materials € 60,00 per academic year + Austrian Students' Union fee
Admission cycle
Office 3rd floor / room 326
Beate Tholema
T +43 512 5322-76710
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Verena Schaffenrath-Mayrhofer
T +43 512 5322-76712
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Barbara Harrich
T +43 512 5322-76716
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Profession and career prospects

What does a career as a sign language interpreter entail?

Sign language interpreters ensure smooth communication between hearing and deaf people, without loss of information. In addition to conveying language, you will sensitize the general public through actions in various societies and associations, engage in public relations as a mediator for language and culture, and partake in activities with regard to information and awareness.

As a sign language interpreter, you will enable non-hearing people to communicate freely, thereby granting them unobstructed access to areas of daily life through translating conversations from the spoken language (German) into Austrian sign language and vice versa. You will perform this activity in areas such as work, the municipal sector, education, healthcare, legal and political settings, and the like. Sign language interpretation empowers non-hearing people to partake in all areas of life as autonomously as possible through barrier-free communication. This creates a multifaceted professional field, which offers a welcome variety of responsibilities and diverse topics.

In Austria, sign language interpreting is a non-regulated profession and is thus not subject to provisions of professional law. Self-employed individuals are required to register a free trade ("freies Gewerbe”) according to the industrial code (GEWO, BGBl. Nr. 194/194 i.d.g.F.). Pertaining to the registration of a free trade, the regulations of the industrial code are applied as amended


What can you expect from the study programme?

During your practically oriented education, you will acquire the exact competencies needed to practice sign language interpreting as a profession. Along with professional expertise on translation, this also includes the acquisition of extensive knowledge about linguistic and cultural differences between the language cultures.

In the modules Language competences 1-6, you will extend your language competencies in Austrian sign language over the course of your studies and build up your language level from A1 to B2. Starting from the fourth semester, there is a focus on immersion and extension through learning specialist gestures used in the main professional fields of application. You will also practise translating techniques used in professional practice: The modules Situationally appropriate interpreting - specific settings 1 and 2 convey the requirements of the main areas of application (work and municipal sector, education, healthcare, legal and political settings), which you will cover on the basis of practical case studies. Furthermore, you will learn the handling of essential video-, telecommunications- and image-programmes, so that you will be able to utilise them in your future work life.

From the fifth semester onwards, you will further professionalise your language competencies for translating. The modules Sociology and cultural competence 1 and 2 impart the needed background knowledge on the unique characteristics of deaf culture and community, in order for you to be able to function not only as a language mediator, but also as a cultural mediator in your professional practice, actively building intercultural understanding.

The modules Health-consciousness at university 1 and 2 (in the second and fourth semester) teach you the basic medical knowledge required for your function as a sign language interpreter in the healthcare sector. You will also learn relevant aspects for staying healthy during your occupational activity (speech training and voice formation, health-conscious working and ergonomics)

Practical training

What can you expect from practical training?

The practical training in external facilities gives you the opportunity to experience the everyday professional life of a sign language interpreter already during your studies. You can strengthen your capacity for teamwork, as well as organisational and coordinative abilities, which you will need in your future practice. To ensure an optimal preparation for the practical training, you get to apply your knowledge in advance of the training in specially designated classes (integrated classes, laboratory trainings, exercises). At the start of your professional training, you will learn the rules of content-related and situative preparation for individual translating assignments. In the further course of your studies, you will be systematically guided towards your first independent translating work.

Duration and extent of your practical training:
  • 1st semester / 1,5 ECTS / 1 week
  • 2nd semester / 1,5 ECTS / 1 week
  • 3rd semester / 1,5 ECTS / 1 week
  • 4th semester / 3,5 ECTS / 2 weeks
  • 5th semester / 2,0 ECTS / 1,5 weeks
  • 6th semester / 13,0 ECTS / 8 weeks

Take the opportunity to do your practical training abroad with the Erasmus+ Programme.