UNC's Department of American Sign Language and Interpreting Studies Recently Awarded over $3 Million in Grants
December 6, 2021
UNC’s Department of American Sign Language and Interpreting Studies, ASL-English Interpretation bachelor's program (ASLEI) was recently awarded over $3 million from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Colorado Commission for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind (CCDHHDB).
The awards will fund three separate projects over the next several years, focusing on identified gaps that exist in ASL-English interpreting services, particularly in rural areas and educational settings both in Colorado and across the nation.
Preparing School Interpreters (PSI) Project: An OSEP Grant
Interpreters provide primary access to educational opportunities for students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, yet often they do not meet their state’s regulations/licensing requirements to work in a public school setting. This $1.25 million personnel preparation project, funded by the DOE, Office of Special Education Program, runs from Oct. 2021 through Sept. 2026. This project will invest in 27 upper-division students in UNC’s ASLEI program through scholarship support, including tuition and stipends, induction-mentorship, certification examinations, and other professional activities.
Improving Rural Interpreter Skills (IRIS) Project
Individuals who work as ASL-English interpreters in rural areas around the country commonly lack the comprehensive knowledge and skill sets required to provide equal communication access to the Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind communities and they are generally overlooked by training entities and professional organizations. This five-year, $2.1 million interpreter training grant, funded by the DOE, Rehabilitation Services Administration, runs Oct. 2021 through Sept. 2026. It will focus on improving the skills of 80 working interpreters and 20 mentor/facilitators in designated rural areas across the U.S.
Colorado Rural Interpreter Skills Enhancement (RISE) Project
The Colorado RISE Project is a continuation of funding that is intended to provide improved interpreting services to rural Coloradans. This $100,000 per year renewable contractual collaboration between CCDHHDB and UNC's ASLEI program will run from 2022-2024. The goal of the project is to cultivate a rural interpreter Community of Learning and Practice by providing training to 12 interpreters working in or interested in working in rural areas of Colorado, and training 10 facilitators, language- and interpreter-mentors to increase capacity to assist rural interpreters in acquiring interpreting knowledge and skills.