SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – Sorenson Communications®, the nation’s leading provider of Video Relay Services (VRS) for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate, has named Western Oregon University’s ASL/English interpreting program the recipient of the Sorenson VRS® (SVRS) Interpreter Education Program (IEP) Award of Excellence. In addition to receiving $10,000 for the program, Sorenson Communications has given WOU a $2,500 credit to be used at Sign Media and a $4,000 credit to be used at DawnSignPress, for a total of $16,500 in awards.
The award, to be presented annually, was announced October 22 at the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) 2008 Conference. The honor recognizes WOU’s effort to respond to the broadening communication needs of the deaf community by strengthening programs and incorporating VRS tracks into its curriculum.
Earlier this year, Sorenson Communications, the world’s largest employer of sign language interpreters, established the SVRS IEP Award of Excellence to encourage programs to expand curriculum and respond to the ever-increasing demand for interpreters. WOU met specific eligibility criteria and was awarded $10,000, to be reinvested in curriculum and training to strengthen WOU’s already existing and new programs. The award also covered the cost of attendance at CIT for two WOU program members.
Chris Wakeland, vice president of interpreting for Sorenson Communications notes, “With the growing popularity of VRS, there is a tremendous demand for highly-trained VRS interpreters. By providing work-ready and community-driven practicum and mentorship opportunities, WOU’s ASL/English interpreting program is preparing IEP graduates for the rigors of community and VRS interpreting work. In addition, WOU is monitoring graduates’ certification and employment levels, then strengthening curriculum so that the time between graduation and when graduates enter the workforce is reduced.”
Elisa Maroney, coordinator for WOU’s ASL/English interpreting program, expressed appreciation for the award and emphasized WOU's commitment to the deaf community.
“WOU’s interpreting program faculty stay abreast of what is most current in the field of interpreting and interpreter education. With the emergence of VRS interpreting, the merging of interpreting and technology, we decided that for our students to be most marketable and to be able to serve their consumers to the best of their abilities, incorporating VRS into our curriculum was critical,” Maroney says. “WOU will use the award funds to research entry-level interpreter readiness. Research findings will inform faculty so that evidence-based changes to our curriculum and programs may be implemented.”
For more information on the eligibility requirements for this year’s SVRS IEP Award of Excellence, visit www.sorensonvrs.com/IEP.
About Sorenson Communications
Sorenson Communications® (www.sorenson.com) is a provider of industry-leading communications services and products. The company’s offerings include Sorenson Video Relay Service® (SVRS), the highest-quality video interpreting service; the Sorenson (VP-100® and VP-200®) videophones; and Sorenson IP Relay® (SIPRelay), enabling text-to-speech relay communication.
About Western Oregon University’s ASL/English Interpreting Program
The American Sign Language/English interpreting major at Western Oregon University (http://www.wou.edu/education/sped/bsbai.php) is designed to prepare graduates to enter the interpreting field as professionals who make significant contributions to the service delivery team. The program combines classes in language development, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, education and professional practices, as well as interpreting theory, technique, and the application of knowledge and skills to interpreting performance.
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Ann Bardsley, Sorenson Communications
Elisa Maroney, associate professor of special education