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Sign Language Interpreting - NCIEC Interview

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Updated June 19, 2009

Photo of sign language interpreter

Sign Language Interpreter

Hannah Johnston / Getty Images
About.com asked questions of the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC), an organization concerned with the quality of sign language interpreter education and availability of interpreters. NCIEC directors collaborated on a response. The six directors who responded:
  • Pauline Annarino, Director Western Region Interpreter Education Center (WRIEC)
  • Cathy Cogen, Director Regional Interpreter Education Center at Northeastern University (NURIEC)
  • Beverly Hollrah, Director Gallaudet University Regional Center (GURIEC)
  • Linda Stauffer, Director Mid-American Regional Interpreter Education Center (MARIE)
  • Laurie Swabey, Director CATIE Center at the College of St. Catherine (CATIE)
  • Betsy Winston, Director National Interpreter Education Center (NCIEC)

Q: Tell us about the establishment of the NCIEC?

A: NCIEC was established by Center Directors in May 2006. The six months [prior] were spent analyzing six grant proposals, working to synthesize proposals into a cohesive whole, and discussing the potential for a consortium to achieve our goals.

Q: What can NCIEC do about Video Relay Services (VRS) making it difficult to get community interpreting services?

A: The NCIEC Interpreting via Video team's task is to identify steps towards effective practice in VRS interpreting, while promoting awareness through research based efforts. The report Steps Toward Identifying Effective Practices in VRS Interpreting (NCIEC, 2009), [discusses this] under the topic of "Impact on and interactions with the Deaf community." Interpreters report performing less community interpreting and a feeling of loss of connection with the local community. They also report seeing and working with more Deaf people in VRS settings, but on a national scope rather than local.

The shortage of interpreters for community work has been exacerbated by the growth of VRS. The NCIEC is working to identify effective practices in interpreting and interpreter education and to disseminate results to Interpreter Education Programs. In addition, the Discover Interpreting initiative is reaching out and introducing sign interpretation to those embarking on post-secondary education. The hope is that [enough] new qualified interpreters will enter the profession to balance the number of interpreters in VRS and within the community.

Q: Do you have any out-of-the-box ideas to encourage interest in interpreting, e.g., high school interpreting clubs?

A: Discover Interpreting, the NCIEC's interpreter recruitment initiative, is itself an out-of-the-box idea. Discover Interpreting is designed in part on the nursing field's efforts to increase the number of nurses. Not surprisingly, the target audience is [similar to] the nursing field.

Discover Interpreting is based on an Integrated Marketing Communication plan:

  • We have launched social networking opportunities such as a Facebook page.
  • Our Discover Interpreting brochures, printed in English and Spanish, are disseminated annually to interpreting education programs and high school programs with ASL classes and Deaf students, and upon request. Over 50,000 brochures are already in circulation.
  • We have created an Ambassador program - a grassroots effort to reach out to diverse constituencies including high schools, community colleges, and community groups.
  • We are assembling a media campaign including press releases and public service announcements.
Q: How will NCIEC's work continue after 2010 when the RSA funding expires?

A: The NCIEC has built a strong network of national, regional, and local partners. Our plan, should federal funding cease, is to work with one or more of our partners to ensure that the website is sustained.

Q: I found this on DiscoverInterpreting.com. Does this mean a bachelor's degree in interpreting specifically, or any bachelor's degree?

"Starting in 2012, any interpreter who wants to sit for national certification will be required to have graduated college with a Bachelors degree." (More details are in this PDF file)

A: To answer your question, the RID 2012 mandate specifies only a Bachelor's degree. It does not specify a degree in interpreting.

The NCIEC AA-BA Partnership team has led a national conversation around current issues in AA-BA transition, [working] to identify effective models of AA-BA partnerships [for] successful interpreter education program design. Much of what has been learned is in a monograph, Toward Effective Practices: A National Dialogue on AA-BA Partnerships, available online for free at Lulu.com.

Q: How can deaf consumers get involved? We obviously have a vested interest.

A: The NCIEC Deaf Advocacy Training (DAT) work team comprises six members, four of whom are deaf or hard of hearing. We have engaged a large number of deaf consumers as we developed the training. There are still many opportunities for participation. At this time, we are developing the curriculum and field test. We will also be seeking potential deaf trainers to provide [and] participate in training.

Q: I noticed that you do not have a project for Educational Interpreting. Why not?

A: Educational interpreting falls into two categories: K-12, and post-secondary. Our funding agency specifically precludes activities focused on K-12 interpreting, because another federal agency [supports] that. NCIEC activities focus on educational opportunities and activities that promote qualified interpreters competent in a variety of interpreting settings. This is especially relevant to our own funding, because one primary consumer group is Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) clients. Many consumers require qualified, competent interpreters as they enter post-secondary settings for job training and educational opportunities.

Discuss interpreting in the About.com Deafness forum.

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