Randleman Program

The shortage of Interpreters of Color (IOC) is a national problem. According to a 2018 demographic report by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, only 5% of interpreters identify as Black. Another 5% identify as Latinx. The focus of the Randleman Program is to address this imbalance by recruiting and retaining IOC for the RIT campus.

Named in honor of Valarie Randleman, the first Black interpreter in RIT/NTID’s Department of Access Services, who retired after 35 years of service, the underlying principle of the program is that to commit to recruitment and retention is to commit to making the systemic changes necessary to fostering an inclusive workplace. The program is rigorous, and focused on experiential learning. In addition to their interpreting work, Randleman protégés also create Individual Education Plans that address gaps in their professional preparation.

The Randleman Program is actively extending its reach, both on the RIT campus and in local and national communities. On campus the program is expanding, bringing in five new IOC who will work under the close supervision of individual preceptors. In expanding the program this year to five new IOC, we are also creating new metrics and outcome expectations for the program.

On local and national fronts, the Randleman Program is becoming the hub of IOC working in, and interested in working in, higher education. In the Rochester area, the Randleman Program hosts monthly gatherings for student interpreters, community interpreters, and RIT/NTID staff interpreters. Randleman’s outreach to NTID’s interpreting (ASLIE) students is more targeted. Each of our preceptors graduated from interpreter education programs (IEPs), none of which had curriculums articulated for the very different circumstances of the ALANA population. Our preceptors possess extensive knowledge that is essential to IEPs that are willing to commit to making the curricular and social adjustments necessary for inclusion to take root and grow in interpreting education.

This past summer the Randleman Program designed and delivered its first Summer Intensive Program, a six-week offering that was provided to 16 IOC who were new to the field. Participants from around the country received individual training in areas ranging from interpreting practice and theory to biomechanical assessment. Assessments of the program were so favorable that there are already plans underway to expand it for next summer and to offer periodic workshops and trainings throughout the year.

This coming year, the Randleman Program will focus on performance metrics and outcome assessment. For the program to continue to grow responsibly, we are building a system of annual review and revision, with the ultimate goal of “graduating” at least five IOC from the program each year.