all insights
ASL Interpreter Shortage and Accessibility in Higher Education

ASL Interpreter Shortage and Accessibility in Higher Education

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf lists around 10,000 certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters in the United States. According to the National Census of the Deaf Population, there are about 500,000 Deaf or hard-of-hearing Americans who use ASL. The ratio of Deaf or hard-of-hearing ASL users to ASL interpreters is roughly 50 to 1 and varies depending upon the area. 

According to a report by the National Interpreter Education Center, “The ongoing shortage of interpreting personnel will, for the foreseeable future, be compounded by the need for increasingly complex and specialized skills and knowledge.” The report goes on to state, “The availability of interpreters is further impacted by decisions within the field (e.g. to establish specialization credentials), forces outside the field (e.g. state efforts to establish licensure), and personal and professional aspirations (e.g. retirement and pursuit of further education and other careers).”

This shortage of interpreters has affected many industries but higher education institutions have been uniquely impacted due to more Deaf and hard-of-hearing students enrolling in postsecondary education and pursuing careers in medical and technical fields. Finding available interpreters with the unique skillset and knowledge necessary for these courses can be very challenging. The National Deaf Center recommends partnering with an agency to avoid service gaps during the interpreter shortage.

Why Partner with DSU?

Partnering with DSU will allow you to seamlessly provide interpreters who have the specialized skill and knowledge necessary to meet students’ specific needs. With nearly 30 years of experience in higher education, we have developed the solutions needed to meet the increasing demands for communication accommodations in the postsecondary setting. 

Video Remote Interpreting Options
With a pool of over one thousand providers, DSU can have a qualified interpreter ready to join a class or meeting remotely within minutes. Whether there is an emergency or a last-minute request for services, we are here to quickly provide a high level of interpreting services and ensure communication access for your students. Our coordination team is here to answer questions and help with troubleshooting technical issues if they arise. 

Managing Schedules
Managing student and interpreter schedules can be difficult and time-consuming. When partnering with DSU, you provide the student’s schedule and we handle the rest. Once we review the course information, we will work to secure a team of qualified interpreters with knowledge of the subject at hand. We always do our best to provide as much consistency for students as possible. Our large pool of experienced interpreters allows us to quickly overcome scheduling challenges like changes in provider availability, spontaneous meetings, or students switching class sections. 

Additional Resources
For nearly 30 years, DSU has worked to build a national network of interpreters, resources, and solutions for higher education institutions. We have expert experience in providing interpreting services in major cities and rural areas. We understand the challenges that come along with different environments and the unique solutions to overcome them. Partnering with DSU gives your school and your students access to these resources and solutions. 

If you are interested in learning more about partnering with DSU, schedule a time to meet with our higher education communication access consultant.