The University of Northern Colorado, Department of American Sign Language & Interpreting Studies (ASLIS) under the leadership of Dr. Leilani Johnson has been awarded a $2M grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. UNC also contributed more than $185,000 to this project. This funding will be used over five years between January 2017-December 2021. Project CLIMB: Cultivating Legal Interpreters from Minority Backgrounds, co-directed by Erica West Oyedele and Amy Williamson, serves to increase the number of interpreters of color and heritage signing backgrounds by creating career paths for specialization in legal interpreting for practitioners from these underrepresented communities.
Project CLIMB will focus on the delivery of educational opportunities for minority group interpreters, within communities of practice created by a critical mass of interpreters who share similar backgrounds. The Project’s core consultants provide expertise in legal systems, instructional design, delivery, and program evaluation. They are also predominantly individuals from minority backgrounds, helping to ensure that pedagogical practices and project delivery occur in ways that take into consideration skill development, as well as the psychosocial needs of Project CLIMB participants.
In addition to its communities of practice, Project CLIMB will offer participants a combination of online and face-to-face resources designed to prepare interpreters for working in the legal specialization. Stakeholder groups and organizations consisting primarily of individuals of the target population, and those who work with consumers who stand to benefit the most by having access to interpreters of minority backgrounds working in the legal system, have been engaged to provide their support to Project CLIMB. Stakeholder groups consisting primarily of individuals of the target population and those who work with consumers who stand to benefit the most by having access to interpreters of minority backgrounds working in the legal system have been engaged to provide their support to Project CLIMB. The work of the project also involves collaborative efforts and the support of the legal system and organizations working to ensure language access to the legal system such as the National Center for State Courts and state level judicial branch administrators.
It is anticipated that Project CLIMB will prepare over 150 interpreters of color from heritage signing backgrounds for work in the legal setting over the life of this grant. In addition to these direct training opportunities, this website serves as an additional resource through the toolkits, media resources, and webinars that are developed by Project CLIMB and shared with the public as they become available.
Project CLIMB Timeline
Year 1 Goals:
(January 2017-December 2017)
- Development of legal interpreting modules and supervisor/mentor training program
- Assemble representatives from the legal system & interpreter organizations to investigate collaborative approaches to credentialing for interpreters of color and heritage signers
Year 2 Goals:
(January 2018-December 2018)
- Train 25 legal interpreting supervisor/mentors
- Assemble representatives from the legal system & interpreter organizations to discuss barriers & career paths for interpreters of color and heritage signers
Year 3 & 4 Goals:
(January 2019-December 2020)
- Recruit interpreters of color and interpreters from heritage signing backgrounds to join communities of practice
- Offer and implement legal specialist mentorship program through communities of practice
Year 5 Goals:
(January 2021-December 2021)
- Supervise the induction process of legal interpreters from minority backgrounds
- Synthesize, evaluate, and distribute the work of the project