Valencia College Plans to Add Bachelor’s Degree in Sign Language Interpretation

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Orlando, FL – Valencia College plans to ask state officials for permission to create a bachelor’s of science degree program in sign-language interpretation.

Today, the college’s board of trustees voted unanimously to ask the Florida Department of Education to approve the new degree. If Valencia receives approval from state officials and its accrediting agency, the college plans to begin offering the program in January 2017.

The college currently offers an associate’s degree in sign-language interpretation – and has 204 students enrolled as sign-language interpretation majors, and 500 taking sign-language classes. Because there is no bachelor’s degree program available in the Orlando area, students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sign-language interpretation must transfer to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville or the University of South Florida in Tampa.

There’s strong job demand for sign-language interpreters in the Orlando area. Florida has the nation’s third largest population of people with hearing difficulties at 210,779 – roughly 1.8 percent of Florida’s population, according to the 2014 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.

Across the country, there’s a shortage of sign-language interpreters. In Central Florida, there are currently 1,800 interpreter and translator jobs, paying a median wage of $18.52 per hour. Economic predictions project a 27 percent increase in job growth in this field in the next eight years, according to EMSI, Economic Modeling Specialists International.

Possible employers include school systems, hospitals, translation services and others, including Universal Studios, the University of Central Florida and Interpretek Inc., a national full-service interpreting agency for the deaf.

Although many interpreters have only an associate’s degree in sign-language interpretation, new regulations are requiring bachelor’s degrees for them to become nationally certified.

In 2012, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf began requiring a bachelor’s degree for students who want to take the National Interpreter Certification assessment. And, starting in July 2016, students must have a bachelor’s degree before they can become Certified Deaf Instructors.