Texas Tech has always offered a minor in ASL, or American Sign Language, which were always popular classes. Now the university is getting ready to offer a bachelor’s degree program in ASL interpreting, which will be the second degree program for interpreting in the state. Professors said it’s more important now than ever since the south plains is suffering from an interpreter shortage.
The program is going to start the first two classes this fall on campus. Texas Tech will be one of only two in the state and one of just a handful across the county that offers a B.A. degree in interpreting. There are several two year programs where people can get their certifications.
Right now, Texas only requires 60 credit class hours to get a certifications to become an interpreter. But the national certification requires a bachelor’s degree. Audrey Sendejo, a professor and ASL coordinator at Texas Tech, believes Texas will soon also require a B.A. degree to become an interpreter. She was one of many professors who have been pushing for this program for years.
“I think having people from West Texas, who really want to stay in West Texas will be a benefit to the deaf community,” said Audrey Sendejo. “It will be local community and local people.”
Professors like Sendejo have been trying to get this program started for years. But now more than ever, Sendejo said the Lubbock deaf community is in desperate need. She said in the last year, the Lubbock interpreting community has lost several people, either from them moving cities or changing jobs. This leaves the deaf community on the south plains without a voice.
“We can grow people from our local community to stay here and support our deaf community, because they’re the ones who suffer,” said Sendejo. “When you don’t have an interpreting program, enough interpreters, it’s the deaf community that’s hurting. That’s why it’s been so important to us.”
Students are already looking into the program as well. For Emily Glaeser, she’s even considering staying longer at Texas Tech to be a part of the first class.
“It really is an important degree,” Glaeser said. “I’m really siked that it’s here and I’ve felt like maybe I’ll just get my PhD here knowing there’s an interpreting program.”
The first two classes for the degree start this fall.
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