The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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NCOD gets grant for national study

Daily Sundial

The National Center on Deafness and the Deaf Studies Department received a grant to determine the national number of sign language interpreters.

The national grant provided by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf is $19,933, said Shelley Bartenstein, NCOD grant writer.

“This is going to be a very big project,” Bartenstein said. “We will be gathering data from every organization and institution in the country that serves deaf and hard-of-hearing people, like K-12 higher education, agencies and in the work place.”

Gary Sanderson, interim director of NCOD at CSUN, said he believes there is an interpreter shortage in the United States. He also said, however, that there is talk in the interpreting community of the shortage, but no one can actually prove it due to a lack of data.

The study will provide valuable information to organizations that provide interpretive services, Sanderson said. Detailed information on the shortage of interpreters would help organizations that work with the hearing impaired better target grant proposals to get money from the government to help provide interpreters.

“I think this (the interpreter shortage) has been building up over the past five or seven years because deaf people are doing more and more things now,” Sanderson said. “Deaf people are taking full advantage of being functioning members of society. More kids who are going to different schools and have the right to have an interpreter …just things that we never thought of 30 years ago.”

A campus, such as CSUN, needs one hundred interpreters to cover substitutes or last- minute assignments, and we currently have eighty-seven, Sanderson said.

Robert Wood, NCOD administrative staff interpreter, said the interpreter shortage is obvious.

“The pendulum changed from being too many interpreters to not enough interpreters,” he said. “Now you can see it’s a problem. If you go anywhere, deaf people are crying for interpreters at doctors’ offices for appointments. And anywhere they want they need an interpreter. They (are) just not any available. Here on campus is the same thing. There are a lot of students who need interpreters and there is just not enough.”

Wood said the NCOD does what it can to provide interpreters for those with partial hearing loss and deaf students who request them.

Students that can not get an interpreter have to resort to other ways of understanding the lecture. Depending on their need, students could be provided captioning services, note taking or real-time caption systems, Wood said.

“Very little information can be read on the lips because certain sounds are made in the back or your throat and not on your lips?reading lips really isn’t an avenue for them to go,” Wood said.

Creating a large database indicating where interpreters are needed would be the research project’s first step, Sanderson said.

NCOD would then hold an online survey and run that survey through statistical programs, he said.

He also said researching the interpreter shortage would require tracking students who are learning how to interpret, and finding where they go after their training, Sanderson said.

NCOD wants know if there is a high interpreter turnaround rate or if people are leaving the field.

“Everybody who is on the (National Council of Interpreting) talks about the fact that there’s not enough interpreters in their area,” Sanderson said. “The grant is to see where the interpreter shortage is and to get some actual numbers.”

Yohanna Figueroa can be reached at


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