Students enrolled in Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ American Sign Language (ASL) – English Interpreting program will soon be able to complete the majority of their coursework online.

The Eastern Iowa Community Colleges are the only schools in Iowa to offer a Deaf Studies Certificate and an American Sign Language – English Interpreting Associate in Applied Science Degree. The new online option will provide greater flexibility for students interested in pursuing ASL as a career. On-campus classes will still be offered.

The need for ASL interpreters is at an all-time high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to grow 24% from 2020 to 2030, which is higher than other occupations. Those with ASL jobs can work in hospitals, schools, business offices, courtrooms and freelance interpreting services.

“Our students are getting jobs immediately after successful completion of the program, many with great starting salaries,” Diane Roebuck, ASL – English Interpreting Instructor, said. “It’s the perfect profession for anyone who likes variety in their work day and supporting people and their communities.”

Students will be able to access their class lectures and assignments through the college’s online course management system, and textbooks and instructional videos will be provided by DawnSignPress, the nation’s leading publisher of ASL and deaf film, literature and software. As a communicative field requiring face-to-face interactions, all online students will be required to complete an in-person workshop totaling two days each semester. The workshops give students the chance to practice their skills face-to-face and communicate with members of the deaf community, as well as fellow students. The curriculum includes topics ranging from linguistic structures and cultural norms to professional ethical standards and areas of specialty. 

Upon successful completion of the program, students are prepared to sit for the following exams:

  • Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA)
  • The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) National Interpreter Certification (NIC)
  • Board of Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) certification

These certifications are required for licensure.

Iowa residents can take advantage of Iowa’s Last Dollar Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition for both the ASL – English Interpreter AAS Degree and Deaf Studies Certification. After filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the state will then cover the remaining balance beyond the aid for which you are eligible.

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