Rural Interpreting Services Project: Certification Readiness Training
As of December 2021, this project is no longer active. This page will remain available as a resource.
In 2018, the Colorado General Assembly appropriated funding to the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind (CCDHHDB) to address shortages in the availability of qualified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters in rural areas of the state.
CCDHHDB implemented the Colorado’s Rural Interpreting Services Project (RISP). One of the objectives of the funding was to prepare participants for entry-level competencies in ASL-English interpreting and professional certification in Colorado. To meet this goal, CCDHHDB partnered with the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), Department of ASL & Interpreting Studies (ASLIS) to develop and implement the Certification Readiness Training (CRT) pilot.
The CRT training ran from September 2019 through June 2020 with 20 participants. As well, the RISP project provided three scholarships to UNC ASLIS BA students interested in working as community interpreters in rural areas of the state. At the conclusion of the CRT training, participants and UNC ASLIS scholars worked for one year as interpreting apprentices teaming alongside RISP interpreter mentors as they prepared for certification.
This program was limited to 20 participants who:
- Lived in rural* Colorado or are willing to accept assignments in rural* areas of Colorado;
- Demonstrated ASL-English communicative competence
- Were not yet credentialed or have credentials not currently recognized in Colorado for community interpreting (i.e., EIPA);
- Committed to a one-year, mostly online training program;
- Committed, after the training, to contracting with CCDHHDB’s RISP program to provide 40 hours of work as a certified interpreter or as a paid apprentice; and
- Committed to pursuing a Colorado-recognized interpreter certification.
For successful online learning, the curriculum presented was static enough to provide structure and, at the same time, be flexible enough to provide scaffold learning for the individual student. As such, the training was a year-long series of six and eight-week online modules facilitated by trained interpreting and language specialists. The Certification Readiness Training was designed for the working adult who is motivated to progress toward interpreting proficiency and agreed to pursue a Colorado-recognized interpreter certification. The curriculum promoted quality interpreting services by providing instruction in both knowledge and interpreting skill sets. Throughout the training, participants worked on their interpreting skills while building on new and current evidence-based coursework.
This course of study was not credit bearing, however professional development hours and/or RID CEUs was available. A certificate of completion was offered through the University of Northern Colorado, Department of ASL & Interpreting Studies. The certificate of completion qualified participants to work as paid apprentices or certified interpreters (as is relevant) under CCDHHDB.
The Certification Readiness Training utilized a variety of technologies to deliver the curriculum. The learning management system Canvas was used for online delivery with interpreting and language specialists. Participants had access to module content, discussion boards and video conferencing capability. Additionally, an intensive, multi-day face-to-face training in August 2019 provided participants foundational instruction from selected specialists prior to beginning online coursework in September 2019.
Language and Interpreter Specialists
To implement a training program such as this, specialized instructional staff were required. These specialists were skilled in the field of interpreting and/or ASL language mentoring and understood the unique requirements necessary to interpret in rural areas. Interpreting and language specialists were trained by master facilitators on the Certification Readiness Training curriculum, pedagogical approaches to successful online facilitation, and learning through online and face-to-face learning platforms during a face-to-face training in June 2019 on the main campus of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
The Certification Readiness Training began with a multi-day onsite intensive training and a pre-diagnostic assessment of skills, during August 2019 in Grand Junction. Online learning modules then began September 2019. Curriculum modules, facilitated by interpreting and language specialists, provided participants learning opportunities that built on current knowledge and skill, and supported the development of ASL and interpreting skills. This program was available for professional development hours, RID CEUs and a Certificate of Completion.