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Interpreter program receives $1.5 million

Just when Troy University’s interpreter training program funds were about to run out, the Alabama Dual Party Relay Board came through — with $1.5 million to be exact.

The university and the relay board officially announced a partnership Tuesday that will provide additional funding for the school’s Interpreter Training Program and eventually start a Center for Deafness on the Troy Campus.

The board will donate $300,000 to the university every year for five years, and the funds are something Dean of the College of Education Lance Tatum said will sustain the program.

“It’s huge,” Tatum said. “We began with a grant from the Alabama State Department. That grant ran out, so we were left with challenges.”

Luckily, members of the board had been searching for just the right place to invest their money.

“We have been looking for a large partnership with a major university,” said Chairman of the Alabama Dual Party Relay Board Judy McLean. “When we were approached by Troy University and they gave us a presentation, we felt Troy was big enough.

“Quite frankly, we could have gone with any university in the country, but we thought this was the time and the place, and we really are lucky to be here.”

Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said the university’s just as lucky.

“It’s important people know this is Alabama’s only interpreter training for the hearing impaired,” Hawkins said.

And so, Troy University will fill a need that many across the state have had in finding interpreters for the hearing impaired.

With the funding, Hawkins said the university will use it predominately for faculty and technology.

Tatum said the costs of running this program are higher than most, especially since the types of faculty needed to teach the program are highly specialized.

While the program was approved by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education in March 2008, and students were enrolled last spring.

Tatum said just from spring to the fall, the program grew from 25 to 100 students enrolled.

“In two years you don’t generally get that type of growth,” Tatum said.

The Alabama Dual Party Relay Board was started in 1986, originally as a telecommunications center that interprets calls for speech impaired. That has expanded to include services for blind as well.

This is the beginning of the program, and Hawkins said it is just that.

“We plan to also modify the rehab and counseling program at the graduate level,” Hawkins said.

“This is for training interpreters, but it won’t stop there.”