CDHS increases access to quality sign language interpreting services in rural communities


Patrick Jones


The Colorado Department of Human Services has launched the Colorado Rural Interpreter Skills Enhancement (RISE) Project. The program recruits and trains American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters to work in rural areas that often have little to no access to quality interpreting services for needs such as medical appointments, legal or work settings and school events. Sign language interpreting services are provided at no cost to the provider or the deaf consumer, making access to care more equitable and accessible.

RISE will select 12 hearing applicants who share the goal of becoming certified sign language interpreters who either live in or will take work in rural community settings. Beginning in June, RISE students will complete eight courses, each of which are eight weeks long, followed by a 40-hour apprenticeship. Interpreting specialists will facilitate online learning while deaf language specialists will provide distance mentoring in tandem with coursework. Additionally, students will be encouraged to participate in community-engaged learning and service activities with members of their local deaf community.

“Rural communities often lack access to ASL interpretation for necessary services such as doctor’s appointments and job interviews,” said Trish Leakey, Auxiliary Services Manager. “The RISE Project will increase accessibility to interpretation services, getting us closer to our goal of creating a barrier-free Colorado for all.”

The RISE Project is a collaboration between the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind and the University of Northern Colorado ASL & Interpreting Studies Department.

RISE applications will be accepted through March 7. For more information on the RISE Project or to apply, visit or contact Susan Brown, RISE Project Director, at [email protected]. An informational session will be held on Feb. 15 at 7 pm. Interested applicants can register here:

The Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind (CCDHHDB) operates under the umbrella of CDHS and provides auxiliary services, distributes grants, and assists state agencies and community organizations in building their capacity to serve deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deafblind individuals.

This press release was provided by the Colorado Department of Human Services.