The ASL Interpreter Shortage and Its Impact on Accessibility in College Settings | NDC

NDC’s work with colleges and training programs across the country is unveiling an alarming trend. Disability services professionals in postsecondary environments are sharing that the national shortage of American Sign Language interpreters has been especially challenging. Colleges and universities across the country are facing increased difficulties providing support services to deaf students. This difficulty is a result of  both a lack of availability of qualified interpreters and a decreased willingness of available interpreters to work in postsecondary settings, particularly in person.

Crisis for Deaf College Students

Analysts suggest that the number of long covid cases, the availability of remote work, and general dissatisfaction with working conditions and compensation are contributing to a nationwide staffing shortage. We believe these current challenges are also contributing to the interpreter shortage. However, we also know that the need for interpreters who have specialized skill and knowledge has increased over the years as more and more deaf students pursue medical and technical fields.

Interpreters have told us that they are choosing not to continue working in postsecondary settings for following reasons:

  • Poor compensationInconsistent scheduling
  • Working alone without a team
  • Long commutes and difficult parking options
  • Lack of technological support during remote interpreting work

On the other hand, interpreters have also told us that they value the challenging nature of the work in postsecondary settings and playing a role in the educational journey 

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