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ARLINGTON (CBS11) – The profession of sign language interpretation is now considered by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 20 growth careers in the country.

Recent Tarrant County College graduate Karissa Santana just finished training as a sign language interpreter.

Sign language at TCC (Joel Thomas - CBS11)

Sign language at TCC (Joel Thomas – CBS11)

“It looks easy but it’s not,” she said after a recent gig at Six Flags Over Texas.

While performers danced on stage singing a medley of popular songs spanning decades, Santana’s fingers did their own dance. As the lights and simulated fog added to the spectacle, Santana stood at the foot of the stage facing the audience. Her hands flung fluidly and rhythmically as she swayed to the rhythm; fingers curling into various shapes as she moved. And every movement had meaning.

Santana was translating the music into sign language.

The sign interpreter industry has seen explosive growth, ranking high not only with Forbes, but by several labor agencies and business publications.

“There’s definitely lots of opportunities,” Santana said. “You can work in the school district. You can work in the community or you can work in VRS which is the video relay service which is interpreting phone calls for deaf different people.

Videophones are one of reasons for the spike in demand.

“So when a deaf person needs to call, which they can’t do on a normal phone call into one of the various video relay providers and their interpreters there that will see them on the screen and then call the hearing person,” said TCC’s sign language coordinator, Sammie Sheppard.

Santana’s full time job is translating on videophones but she said her career hasn’t really set sail yet.

“One of the things I love about this is that I can go anywhere,” she said. “I have friends who do this on cruise ships. So they go on cruise ships and they interpret for clients, deaf people, hard of hearing people that go on cruise ships. So I’m really looking forward to working on a cruise ship someday!”

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