BU Sign Language/English Interpreting Program to reopen for classes starting in 2008

For immediate release: Dec. 3, 2007

BLOOMSBURG — Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania will reopen admission to its bachelor of science degree program in American Sign Language/English Interpreting in spring 2008 for classes starting in the fall 2008 semester.

BU's program is the only four-year program of its kind in Pennsylvania and one of very few programs on the east coast that results in a bachelor's degree.

New student admission to the program was stopped several years ago while the university recruited two new faculty members. Thirteen students who had already been admitted will complete the degree this May.

"The need for interpreting is great," said new faculty member Jessica Bentley-Sassaman. "Many agencies turn down interpreting jobs because they don't have the interpreters."

Admission to the program will be extremely competitive. Bentley-Sassaman and her colleague Bridget Klein estimated that they already have enough interested students to fill the 20 to 25 open seats in the first class.

The reopening of BU's program is particularly timely. Klein noted that beginning in the year 2012, certification by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf will require a four-year degree.

Interpreters also need to complete 80 hours of continuing education every four years to maintain their certification.

"Many students have come to Bloomsburg in anticipation of the interpreting program coming out of moratorium," said James Krause, chairperson of the department of exceptionality programs, which oversees the interpreting major. "I have been contacted by advocates from across the country about the status of the program. It puts BU in a positive light."

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Professional Studies, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.