ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Randleman Program at the Rochester Insitute of Technology, is hoping to bring more interpreters of color into the deaf community.
The National Technical Institute for the Deaf is one of the largest technology colleges for the hard of hearing in the country, with over 1,000 students on campus.
With such a diverse deaf-student population, the Randleman Program is making sure interpreters reflect the people they work with.
“There are often times when you have interpreters who aren’t of the same culture and they can miss some of those subtle cultural nuances that are important to communicate messages between people,” said Kristi Love-Cooper, Randleman program coordinator.
That’s Kristi Love-Cooper, head of the Randleman program at RIT. Participants will spend two years developing their skills, while also talking about the challenges for people of color in the field.
The close-knit group is important to openly talk about challenges, according to interpreters like Cassandra Flores, who went through the program.
“Because of that inclusion and being able to be in a safe area that’s what really separated being a person’s of color in this field and feeling included,” said Cassandra Flores, an apprentice interpreter at RIT.
With Rochester being home to one of the nation’s highest hard of hearing populations and the many deaf students who come to RIT, leaders say school is the perfect place for the program
“We have so many deaf people here and they are very diverse we have a very diverse group. So we need enough diverse interpreters to be able to work with the larger group of deaf people,” said Love-Cooper.
The Randleman program has been running for over a year and so far interpreters of color on campus have grown from 8% to 14%.
The Randleman program is named after the first interpreter of color at RIT, Valarie Randleman.