Program Goals and Values

Our program is designed in accordance with:

Our Mission and Goals
Our Objectives
Our Philosophy
Our Core Values

1.  Program Mission and Goals:

Our mission is to increase the understanding, respect, and equality of Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing people and their diverse communities.

This mission is carried out by three inter-related goals:

  • To provide high quality American Sign Language instruction
  • To prepare professional interpreters who are competent, ethical, and life-long learners
  • To promote excellent resources, service, and scholarship to the state of Kentucky, the region, and throughout the United States.

2. Program Objectives:

The program objectives are enumerated under the three main goals.

A. To provide high quality American Sign Language instruction.

  • The program will recruit and retain qualified and diverse ASL instructional personnel.
  • The program will continually enhance ASL curricula, materials, methods, assessments, and lab experiences.
  • The program will maintain adequate equipment and facilities to support ASL instruction.
  • The program will offer quality ASL courses in support of general education requirements, the ASL minor, the interpreting major, and other related majors.
  • The program will help prepare students to have basic proficiency in ASL as part of the prerequisites to formal acceptance into the Interpreter Training Program.

B.  To prepare professional interpreters who are competent, ethical, and life-long learners.

  • The program will recruit and retain qualified and diverse interpreter educators.
  • The program will continually enhance interpretation curricula, materials, methods, assessments, and practicum experiences.
  • The program will maintain adequate equipment, technology, and facilities to support interpreter education.
  • Students of the program will develop critical and creative thinking skills.
  • Students of the program will develop competency in ASL and English.
  • Students of the program will possess a generalist level of knowledge in professional issues, theories, and multicultural dynamics related to the interpreting profession.
  • Students of the program will demonstrate ethical and culturally competent decision-making in various interpreting settings.
  • Students of the program will demonstrate at least entry-level competency in interpreting between ASL and English.
  • Students of the program will be able to critically assess their own work and use creative problem-solving to continually develop themselves after they leave the program.

C. To promote excellent resources, service, and scholarship to the state of Kentucky, the region, and throughout the United States.

  • The program will offer outreach resources to interpreters in the state of Kentucky.
  • The faculty and staff of the program will serve the university and professional communities.
  • The faculty of the program will produce scholarly work at the state, regional, and national level.

3.  Program Philosophy:

a) A Sociolinguistic View of Interpreter Education

The overarching philosophy of the program is that we bear legal and social responsibility for educating professional sign language interpreters to meet the communication access needs of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The communication needs of Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Hard of Hearing, and hearing individuals are diverse, therefore we aim to prepare culturally-sensitive interpreters to work in a variety of settings.  We also aim to prepare interpreters to work between ASL and English knowing that there are many variables that influence language use including gender, ethnicity, social status, education, age, and bilingualism.  Continually dialoguing with the diverse communities we serve ensures that their evolving needs are being met by changes in how we educate our students.

b) ASL-centered Language Use

Because ASL is a minority language and the indigenous language of the American Deaf community, it is our philosophy and practice to make the program linguistically accessible and culturally friendly to Deaf students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  This means that we make it a general practice to use ASL when in and around the department.  This includes a strong preference to use ASL prior to and after class, in the classrooms, labs, hallways, department offices, and during meetings, etc.  In keeping with this philosophy, we prefer to provide interpretation from ASL to English during meetings for guests and staff who may not be fluent in ASL.  This allows Deaf individuals the rare opportunity to have direct language access.  This philosophy is one of the primary means of showing respect to Deaf people, and it also avoids the potentially negative message that is given when someone who can sign chooses not to.

We balance our ASL-centered philosophy with our value of student success (see below) and mutual trust among program faculty and staff.  Therefore we do not have a formal policy in place but give staff and faculty discretion in language use when it comes to teaching certain types of content, developing interpreting skills, and discussing crucial decision-making matters with students, such as during advising.

c) Immersion Opportunities for Students

Unlike “study abroad” immersive experiences that are afforded students of other foreign languages, there is very little opportunity to find immersive experiences for students of ASL.  Our ASL-centered philosophy is not only a way to model respect of Deaf people for our students, it also serves to provide them with an immersive learning environment.  Immersion encourages our students to become truly bilingual.  It helps them gain higher facility in using ASL to express themselves.  We aim for them to become equally ASL-centric along with being English-centric, which is a mark of a highly competent, fully bilingual interpreter.  In other words, that English would be less and less their “default” language, and ASL would be more and more a natural way for them communicate and not seen as only necessary to use when Deaf people are around.

d) Interpreting students still need to improve their spoken English skills and vocabulary in various registers.  We recognize that being ASL-centered within the program means that spoken English is practiced less.  We believe this approach is fair given the rare opportunities for practicing ASL in an immersive environment.  Practice in spoken English is possible through various other coursework, support resources on campus, and through other opportunities in the community.

4.  Program Core Values:

Beyond the distinctive philosophies of our program described above, the overarching philosophy that influences how program decisions are made mirrors the institutional core values at EKU.

a) Civic Responsibility and Civility

It is the duty of our program to instill in our students an understanding of how the knowledge taught to them can benefit the citizens of the region we serve, the state, the nation, and the world.  Civic responsibility is a value that will show those who acquire it how to influence democratic decision-making and to reap the rewards of participatory democracy and active citizenship.  At the heart of civic responsibility lies another value:  civility.  Our program strives to propagate the understanding and practice of civility in public discourse and social life by encouraging conflict resolution that relies on reason and public debate.

b) Diversity and Dignity

Program faculty, staff, and students expect one another to adopt high moral principles and professional standards both inside and outside the university setting.  We hold ourselves to the responsibility of dignity as exemplified by a proper sense of pride and self-respect in fulfilling the program mission.  We honor and pursue a university community climate that respects and celebrates the diversity of people, seeks to embrace all individuals, and prohibits judgments based on race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disabilities.  We encourage students to gain exposure to diversity through involvement with university and community events and activities.

c) Excellence and Innovation

Achievement of high standards can only be attained through ongoing assessment and continuous improvement.  The promotion of academic excellence is the foundation for program excellence and vice versa.  An environment that fosters innovation at all levels and rewards creativity is critical to the success of the program.

d) Opportunity and Access

The program values the sovereignty and uniqueness of the individual and believes that the education it offers is of great value.  We seek to make our program and resources available to qualified individuals from diverse populations including traditional students, non-traditional students, student parents, students with disabilities, students from racial and religious minorities, and international students.

e) Shared Governance and Collaboration

The program accepts as true that leadership characterized by vision and embedded with participatory decision-making is an emblem of an effective program.  We are committed to providing an atmosphere in which we pursue our joint aspirations in the spirit and practice of collegiality and collaboration at all levels of the program.

f) Student Success

The program acknowledges that its students, faculty, staff and alumni are the source of its strength: They determine the spirit, eminence, and efficacy of the program.  The future of the program directly hinges on the success of its students, so our most central core value is “student success”—in the classroom, as working professional interpreters, and in the Deaf and hearing communities where the collective efforts of the program are represented.