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Colorado RISE Project

The Colorado Rural Interpreter Skills Enhancement (RISE) Project is a contractual collaboration between the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind (CCDHHDB) and the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) ASL & Interpreting Studies Department (ASLIS) under the leadership of Susan Brown (UNC ASLIS) and Trish Leakey (CCDHHDB). The goal of this collaboration is to increase the number of qualified interpreters by providing training and an induction period to practitioners working in rural Colorado and support the particitioners' efforts to obtain a state recognized interpreting certification, e.g., Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf National Interpreter Certification (NIC), Texas Board of Evaluation (BEI) Certification.

The Pilot

In early 2018, the Colorado Joint Budget Committee appropriated funding to CCDHHDB to create the Rural Interpreting Services Project (RISP) pilot to address sign language interpreting shortages and barriers in rural areas of the state. One of the objectives of the funding was to provide American Sign Language (ASL)-English interpreter training to rural* practitioners in Colorado.

*Rural indicates areas in Colorado outside the parameters of the Front Range.

To provide interpreter training, CCDHHDB partnered with the UNC ASLIS in 2019 to develop and implement a pilot training program for a first cohort. The pilot training was implemented with 20 students completing the curriculum. In 2021, students moved on to a one-year apprenticeship working with RISP interpreter mentors.

Pilot Permanently Funded

The RISE Project (2022-2025) is a continuation of the 2019-2021 CCDHHDB RISP pilot program. The RISP Pilot is now a permanently funded program called Rural Auxiliary Services (RAS). The RAS program is intent on providing quality interpreter services to rural Coloradans. CCDHHDB and ASLIS will continue the training partnership with a second cohort beginning in summer 2022 through the RISE Project.

The Why Behind the RISE Project

Working and residing in rural communities involves challenging obstacles for all working professionals. For ASL-English Interpreters working with Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deafblind adults in rural communities these challenges go beyond the challenges of interpreters working in urban communities. Individuals providing interpreting services in rural communities are often not in compliance with state interpreter laws (e.g., RID NIC certification, licensing) nor are they monitored or offered mentoring opportunities. These practitioners work in isolation, many have not completed an interpreter training program, and have limited to no professional networking opportunities or access to substantial professional development. The impact on the rural Deaf community equates to a lack of appropriate access and results in unequal access to vital community-based programs and services. 

RISE Project Objectives

  1. Increase the number of qualified interpreters working in rural areas of Colorado.
  2. Cultivate a Community of Learning and Practice by engaging facilitators, language/interpreter mentors, RISE students, and RAS interpreting mentors in meaningful dialog of shared interpreting experiences in rural Colorado.
  3. Conduct pre-post diagnostic assessments to determine RISE student progress and efficacy of training.
  4. Deliver eight, eight-week instructional modules to twelve practitioners interested in or are working in rural areas of the Colorado.
  5. Increase the capacity of instructional facilitators and mentors in selected rural areas who can continue to assist rural interpreters in acquisition of interpreting knowledge and skills.

Contract Recognition

The contents of the RISE Project website are developed under a state contract and in partnership with the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind. The contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the state of Colorado. 

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