Young man signing to woman

Front Range Community College (FRCC) and the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) are creating a robust four-year collaboration that will offer Colorado students a new path to careers as sign language interpreters. The partnership will begin with a solid base in American Sign Language (ASL) preparation followed by strong interpreting instruction.

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Changes Afoot

This new joint venture has grown out of a movement in the interpreting profession toward increasing language competency prior to interpreting training. In 2012, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf began requiring a bachelor’s degree in order for prospective interpreters to sit for the national professional certification exam. (Historically, interpreter training had required a two-year associate degree.)

To assist students in meeting this new requirement, FRCC has established three agreements with Siena Heights University, Regis University and Gallaudet University, so that students graduating from FRCC can complete their education at one of these universities.

Most recently, at the national Conference of Interpreter Trainers, the discussion of best practices in current interpreter preparation continued to underscore the necessity of a strong language foundation to best prepare students for today’s interpreting competencies.

A Solid Foundation for a New Structure

For decades, two-year interpreting programs have endeavored to prepare students both in language and interpreting skills within a two-year time frame. FRCC has proudly offered a leading ASL-English Interpreter Preparation Program for almost 40 years. It has been one of the college’s signature programs, and has continued to embrace professional best practices in teaching students to be prepared to enter the exciting and challenging field of ASL-English interpreting.

Better Serving the Deaf Community

In recent years, it has become clear that—while some students may currently be able to achieve their goal in two semesters—the majority cannot. Language acquisition simply takes time, and those whom we serve in the Deaf and hearing communities require a high level of competency in providing effective interpreting services.

A New ASL-English-Interpreter Training Program Coming Soon

FRCC’s ASL program is currently “under construction,” and thus the college is not accepting applications for the 2019/2020 academic year. This spring we will begin update sessions to assist students in planning for entry into the collaborative program in the fall of 2020.

We are enthusiastically moving through the details involved in crafting this FRCC/UNC collaboration, and will also keep the community informed of the progress throughout the coming months on our Interpreter Preparation Program webpage.

For students with a strong desire to attain the skills needed for the interpreting profession, the most important preparation during this time is building ASL skills. Students will need the time between now and the fall of 2020 to attain ASL Level 4 competencies, as the collaborative program begins with ASL 5. FRCC plans to add additional ASL classes to prepare students for this competency level, beginning with this summer.

We are excited to be transitioning to an educational pathway that will prepare students to enter the field of ASL-English interpreting with a strong language foundation, and there will be multiple service delivery options for attaining these skills.

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