Utah Interpreter Program Celebrates 30 Years of Service

This week, The Utah Interpreter Program (UIP) marks its 30th anniversary of working directly with sign language interpreters and members of the Deaf, hard-of-hearing and DeafBlind communities. During the last three decades UIP has ensured that American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters throughout the state meet the highest standards through certification and professional development as well as maintaining a statewide interpreter directory.  

“Utah was 20-30 years ahead of many other states in its recognition and protection of the communication rights of Deaf, hard-of-hearing and DeafBlind citizens,” said Trenton Marsh, director of the Utah Interpreter Program. “As early as 1975, the Utah Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (URID), in collaboration with local Deaf leaders, created a certification process for sign language interpreters — 20 years before it became state law.”

When Utah’s Senator Orrin Hatch championed the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, provisions of interpreting services changed. Community organizations such as URID and the Utah Association of the Deaf asked the Division of Services of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DSDHH) to take on the responsibility of certifying interpreters and educating the public regarding communication access issues. This led to the creation of UIP.

The next year, 1993, saw Utah pass legislation requiring certification of sign language interpreters. “This is incredible since many states still do not have a similar law today,” said Marsh.

The promotion of rights for people with disabilities enables them to fully integrate into their communities and find gainful employment and independence. A benefit for all Utahns.

Currently, UIP focuses on providing certification exams, overseeing annual certification and professional development status of all sign language interpreters in Utah, educating the public about state interpreting laws and policies and providing interpreting services for DSDHH and vocational rehabilitation staff, as well as for the Utah governor’s press conferences.

UIP currently provides three interpreter certification exams and recognizes nearly 600 certified interpreters. UIP has seven staff interpreters and three administrative staff members who serve the state at the DSDHH locations in Taylorsville and St. George.