USM program gives voice to deaf Mainers

11:24 AM, Jan 24, 2011   |    comments
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  • Professor Judy Shepard-Kegl

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A linguistics professor at the University of Southern Maine is helping put Maine in the national forefront of deaf interpreter training.

Prof. Judy Shepard-Kegl won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the biennial Conference of Region 1 of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf held in Albany, N.Y., in December.

She has been instrumental in building USM's American Sign Language/English Interpreting program.

NEWS CENTER'S Amanda Hill recently spoke to Shepard-Kegl about her accomplishments.

During her tenure, Shepard-Kegl has guided the interpreter program through the national accreditation process, becoming only the third such program to do so.  The program is credited with helping to quadruple the number of certified interpreters working in Maine.

Start-up funding for the program was provided by a grant from the Maine Department of Education.  Shepard-Kegl said the results of that investment can be seen in the number of deaf Mainers who achieved a high level of education through the program.  In turn, those graduates will use their skills to help educate the next generation of deaf students.

Graduates of the program are working as interpreters in schools and hospitals.  Some are providing video relay services, while still others are operating as freelance interpreters.

Shepard-Kegl estimates there are now 60 certified interpreters working Maine.  She said more are still needed to meet the needs of Maine's deaf population, and she is committed to helping expand their ranks.

For more information about interpreter program, click here for a link to the USM Linguistics department website.


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