The Signed Language Interpretation Program at UNM has received a 10-year accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education.

Rebekah Miller, an SLI program applicant, said this achievement is the product of work by both the faculty and the students of the SLI program.

“All of us were really giving our best,” she said. “Professors and students were working together to make sure that the classrooms were running smoothly and that everything was as it should be.”

The SLI Program is one of 14 programs in the United States to receive accreditation from the CCIE. This accreditation applies to the SLI program’s Bachelor of Science degree.

“SLI accreditation has only been happening for about six years,” Sherman Wilcox, a professor for the SLI program and former Linguistics Department chair, said. “We are the 14th accredited program in the United States. It’s a nice accomplishment.”

Wilcox said this recognition for UNM and the SLI program will mean a lot for the future of the program and for those going into the SLI career field.

“Sign language interpreters have to be certified depending on which state you are in.” Wilcox said. “In order to become certified you have to graduate from a four-year degree program… And beyond that they will certainly require a four-year degree from an accredited interpreting program. In other words, if you want to interpret in New Mexico, you have to be certified, and soon, that certification test will only be available for those who have graduated from a four-year accredited program.”

Miller said attaining a degree from accredited program would be important for future opportunities..

“If any student were to achieve a bachelor’s degree in signed language interpreting, the accreditation would mean a whole lot to any kind of job they were looking to apply for,” she said.

Wilcox said that the program is going to grow as a result of this accreditation.“We really feel like the raising standards of the entire field of SLI and the continuing need of interpreters in the community is going to impact the program,” he said. “We are going to have to expand and grow and serve out-of-state students.”

Wilcox added that out-of-state students will now be attracted to UNM because of this accreditation.

“For most of our existence we have primarily served in-state students, the majority of our students are from New Mexico,” he said. “I think we are going to see a change in that, we are going to see out-of-state students wanting to come to New Mexico.”

Wilcox hopes to attract students to New Mexico and keep them in the state, where much help is needed concerning the deaf community.

“We will have to be careful because we serve the New Mexico community, so we have to be concerned about producing interpreters that will stay in New Mexico,” he said.