The Training of Interpreters grant program has provided funding for two and a half decades to combat the ongoing shortage of available interpreters for work in the Deaf and Deaf-Blind communities. The grants have resulted in the establishment and expansion of many interpreting education programs and continuing education opportunities across the U.S. Without these efforts, the shortage would likely be much more severe. And yet, as Deaf and Deaf-Blind individuals have increased their participation in education, business, social and healthcare services, telecommunications, and civic life, the demand has continued to exceed the supply.
Needs assessment studies of various stakeholder groups conducted by the National Consortium from 2007-2009, indicated that 60% of Deaf individuals were not able to get an interpreter when they needed one. Approximately 25% of currently working interpreters plan to retire by 2017. Given the current average size of interpreting education program graduating classes, if we continue to recruit students at the rate we are now, we will not keep pace with the rate of retirement. That is, we will have a smaller work force than we do now. Increasing need for interpreters, retirement projections, and graduation forecasts do not portend well for the availability of qualified interpreters in the coming years.
Adding to the inadequate size of the interpreter work force is its lack of diversity. The work force is disproportionately white (88%) and female (88%), hardly reflective of the race, ethnic, and gender diversity of the Deaf and Deaf-Blind communities.
Unless we partner together to make a concerted effort to recruit more, and more diverse, students into interpreting education programs, we will not have any hope of reaching an adequate supply of interpreters to meet the need.
The National Consortium created Discover Interpreting to promote interpreting as viable career option. Modeled after the wildly successful marketing efforts of the nursing field, Discover Interpreting seeks to increase the size of the national interpreting education program student body with particular emphasis on recruiting men and people of color. The brochure, available in English and Spanish, the website DiscoverInterpreting.com, and the Ambassador Program aim to dispel common misconceptions about interpreting (…it is not a professional position, it is not a viable career path, it does not offer compensation, it is not intellectually challenging, if you can sign, you can interpret….) while showing how interpreters appreciate the daily challenges, flexibility, and variation of their work.
Discover Interpreting PSA
This open-captioned Public Service Announcement (PSA) was created by the National Consortium to support program recruitment efforts. You may download it and add your own program contact information; placeholder footage exists at the end for this purpose. Show it at your exhibit booth, put it on your website or Facebook Group, or send it out for broadcast on local cable or commercial TV stations.
Download instructions: Right click on the video thumbnail and choose ‘Watch on Vimeo.’ In vimeo, click ‘Download’ and then select desired file size by right clicking either ‘SD .MP4 file (640×360 / 6MB)’ or ‘Original .M4V file (960×540 / 18MB)’ and choose ‘Save Link As….’