By Susan Jacobson
At basketball games, theme parks, schools and businesses in Central Florida, sign-language interpreters bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf worlds.
Florida has more than 3 million deaf and hard-of-hearing people, according to the Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Nearly 30 percent more interpreters and translators will be required in the state by 2022, according to the state.
To meet the need, Valencia College is planning to ask the Florida Department of Education to let it add a four-year, American Sign Language-interpretation degree starting in 2017. The program would focus on preparing students for regional jobs in the hospitality, health and education industries, according to a Valencia document submitted to the state.
Currently, Valencia's sign-language students must transfer to the University of North Florida or the University of South Florida to earn a bachelor's degree.