Classes and community activities prepare students.
By Linda Owens
The message of 100% of American Sign Language and interpreting graduates passing their licensure exam drew applause at the college convocation Aug. 20, but no one is sure how many students achieved that milestone.
The program was recognized in academic highlights presented at the event in McAllister Fine Arts Center.
ALS interpreter students who have met the academic requirements for the degree must also pass a basic state exam called the Board of Evaluation for Interpreter exam.
Interpreter service manager Jo Hilton said Sept. 13, that she knows of three students who are scheduled to take the BEI exam.
Five or six students from the program have passed the BEI basic interpreter exam and graduated in May. The program routinely graduates eight to 15 students each year, Hilton said.
Hilton, who schedules interpreters, said there are three interpreter classes SLNG 2401, 2402, 2403 that have mock evaluations and BEI pre-tests to improve interpreter skills.
Since 1994 the American Sign Language interpreter program has geared classes in the program to prepare students to take and pass this exam, Julie Razuri, program coordinator, said Sept. 9.
The BEI exam is a two-step certification process. The first exam is a written test of English proficiency, which students may take after 30 credit hours, Razuri said.
The computerized, video recorded four-part Board of Evaluation for Interpreter basic performance exam is the second step of the process, after the completion of 60 credit hours or just prior to graduation, Razuri said.
The first part is broken into two sections; students are evaluated on spoken English translated into signed English.
Part three of the test is signed English into spoken English, and part four, is ASL English reading into written English.
ASL students prepare, Razuri said “by mentoring and working hand in hand with interpreter services, which serves the deaf and bridges a gap between the hearing and signing community.”
The Texas Health and Human Services website has the pass-fail rates for the test of English proficiency. The pass rate has increased in the state from 46% in 2015 to 55% in 2018. Students who fail this exam will have to wait six months to retake the test.
The pass rate in the state for the BEI basic performance exam has increased from 27% in 2013 to 44% in 2018.
According to the website for the BEI basic certification program, the primary goal is to ensure proficiency and accuracy and promote meaningful comprehension.
The Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services states on its website, “it is responsible for testing and certifying the skill level of individuals who seek to become interpreters in Texas.”
Students may go on and take a National Interpreter Certification and an optional National Registry to demonstrate that they meet or exceed the minimum professional standards in a broader range of interpreter and communication skills.
Razuri said there are two clubs that assist students and the community, ASL Honors, an academic based organization, and Connections, a community-based club.
“There are many activities within the deaf community during the year, including a game night every third Friday,” she said.
The ASL and interpreting program requires 72 hours of coursework and an internship consisting of 96 hours of observation and an additional 330 hours of practicum.
For more information, contact Tom R. Cox, chair of world languages at 210-486-2115.