Signing on for duty

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Students in a deaf studies program flex their fingers and get a real-world learning opportunity.

This year, College of Southern Nevada graduated its largest class. A record 3,667 students are eligible to receive 3,721 degrees and certificates.

But something else made this year’s commencement ceremony special, too: for the first time, students in CSN’s deaf studies program participated on stage, helping to fingerspell the names of each CSN graduate.

CSN has always had certified interpreters on stage during the ceremony, but this year, four students provided the interpreters a break during one of the most demanding portions of the ceremony, as graduates crossed the stage.

“It’s a very tedious, time-consuming and difficult part of the ceremony,” Caroline Bass, lead faculty for the program, said in a press release. “This partnership worked out beautifully for us. For many of our students, this is the first time they are doing anything like this.”

It allowed the students an opportunity to gain real-world experience.

CSN was the first college in the state to provide a program for sign language interpreters back in 2002, offering an associate degree in deaf studies and an associate degree in interpreter preparation. This fall, CSN launched a bachelor’s degree in deaf studies with an emphasis in American Sign Language/English Interpreting to fit with changing national certification standards. To obtain national interpreter certification, interpreters for the deaf are required to obtain a bachelor’s degree prior to qualifying for testing.

There are fewer than 100 nationally certified interpreters in Nevada to serve more than 39,000 people with hearing disabilities.

Student Harley Hollis couldn’t pass up the volunteer opportunity. Hollis has already completed an associate degree and is working on her bachelor’s degree. She also works for CSN as an administrative assistant in the Disability Resource Center. She originally planned to study business at CSN.

“My second semester, I took an ASL class and I was hooked,” she said.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.