History of the Randleman Program

Valarie Randleman

Valarie Randleman portrait

Valarie Randleman was the first black interpreter in the Department of Access Services at Rochester Institute of Technology. She retired from working as an interpreter after 35 years of service.

Valarie’s dedication to the interpreting field over the years has afforded her the opportunity to work for several notable figures including the late poet Maya Angelou, former U.S. President Gerald Ford, Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, revolutionary Eldridge Cleaver and others. Her advocacy, insight, and unwavering support has inspired generations of interpreters of color.

Valarie’s initial days employed at RIT were spent as a security officer. One opportune evening, she had an encounter with a Deaf individual and realized the need to become versed in American Sign Language. She decided to take an ASL class, became smitten with the language and culture, and forever changed the trajectory of her life. She received her associates degree in 1987 in educational interpreting and has served her community with integrity and humility.

It is fitting that, in honor of Valarie, the Randleman Program exists to reflect her brightest qualities: humility, service, dedication, and support for others.​

Diversity challenges are prevalent in society today, and higher education is no exception. Anecdotal evidence suggests that interpreters of color have a significantly different experience going through interpreter training programs than their white counterparts. Systematic norms catering to the success of the majority often adversely affect students of color. These norms can manifest in oppressive, alienating ways that make it difficult for interpreting students of color to succeed.


Interpreters of Color

A recent report indicates that of the more than 10,000 interpreters who are registered nationally through RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf), only about 1,300 identify as individuals of color.

There is a need to recruit, train and equip novice interpreters of color to become professional, skilled contributors to the interpreting field.

Acknowledging this gap, founders Angela Hauser, Denise Herrera, Kristi Love Cooper, and Daron Ladson created the Randleman Program in January 2019. With the support of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and NTID Department of Access Services, they created a two-year preceptor program to equip novice interpreters of color, preparing them for the demands of interpreting, while simultaneously increasing and retaining diverse representation across the field of interpreting .