Fargo as in Fargo, North Dakota has an article in their front page newspaper yesterday titled 'Sign language interpreting a rare profession in N.D.' by Teri Finneman in the Forum. Please click on the article before reading ahead.
Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and the Forum is the largest newspaper in the state along with several hundred thousand of readers in northern Minnesota. The article was a great expose on our problem of having a shortage of interpreters however it has missed out on giving us a solution.
I called Teri earlier today to compliment her on her writing and giving us a voice on the interpreting shortage then I asked to offer my solution to this interpreting shortage as I've presented on this blog in the past. She appreciated the compliment and was open to anything I had to say.
I told her that it truly was unfortunate to hear that only ONE college in the state of North Dakota to offer a interpreting program. One person in the article commented that the shortage of interpreters is due to the lack of knowledge of the career. I told Teri that this is smaller of the two problems. I told her that the bigger problem is that American Sign Language (ASL) is not being exposed out there in North Dakota.
ASL should be offered in as many K to 12 schools across North Dakota. Then in the outcome of students taking this class, they can make an informed decision whether to make a career out of ASL such as teaching, counseling, interpreting, and et cetera. One problem...North Dakota's Department of Education (DOE) does not have ASL in their curriculum as a foreign language for K to 12. They only have it for post-secondary school which means community college, college, or university may only offer ASL. The reason why the only college in North Dakota to offer an interpreting program is because its in a town called Devils Lake where the state's school for the deaf is at. To find if your state recognizes ASL as a foreign language, click here.
Teri was very nice and receptive over the phone. I thanked her for her time and I hope that she will have a follow-up article presenting this solution to the communities of North Dakota. To everybody reading this, promote ASL to be taught in as many schools in your state and if you know anybody in North Dakota, please do have them check my blog and have them to contact their DOE to have them to include ASL in the k to 12 curriculum.