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Nevada State College Deaf studies students hope to address state's interpreter shortage

Posted at 8:14 AM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 15:41:25-04

For years, Southern Nevada's Deaf community has struggled to find interpreters. Now, Nevada State College is working to fix that.  

"It's frustrating, there's not enough interpreters here in the valley," says adjunct professor, David Kelsey, who is also deaf.  

Kelsey says without an interpreter, many deaf people in Southern Nevada find simple tasks difficult, like going to the doctor or communicating with a lawyer.  

"It's very important, we need interpreters here," Kelsey says.  

Southern Nevada has such a shortage of certified sign language interpreters that many come from out of state to work here for weeks at a time.  

Now, Nevada State College is trying to address that shortage. 

The state recently made it a requirement for interpreters to be certified through a four-year degree. NSC responded, becoming the first college in the state to offer Deaf studies and interpreting as a major.  

"I was interested and I wanted to try it," says ASL student, Kourtney Dean. 

Dean hopes to become one of the first few students to graduate from NSC with that degree. Even though she's from St. Louis, she plans to stay here after college.  

"I want to help bridge that gap," says Dean. 

Professor Kelsey says retaining these college graduates, and keeping them in Southern Nevada, would make a huge difference for the Deaf community. 

"My students want to be ingrained here," says Kelsey.  "They want to help the Deaf community."