CDHS announces continuation of free sign language interpretation service for rural Coloradans

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DENVER (Aug. 5, 2021) — The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has announced the Rural Auxiliary Services (RAS), formerly the Rural Interpreting Services Project, has been made permanent following a highly successful pilot program. Through Senate Bill 21-216, the former pilot is now an established program and will continue to provide and expand sign language interpreting services at no cost to rural communities for medical, legal and employment-related services, and more.

The RAS is run by the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind (CCDHHDB), which is housed within CDHS. Many clients use interpreters for mental health appointments or parent teacher conferences at school. 

“These services are vital for the deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind communities who often struggle to find culturally relevant providers, or any sign language services at all, especially in rural areas,” said Cliff Moers, director of CCDHHBD. “We are proud of the work that went into the pilot and look forward to this continued program benefiting Coloradans across the state.” 

Since 2018, rural Coloradans have submitted 2,770 requests for sign language interpreting services from 38 counties in the state, with most requests coming from Mesa, Summit and Alamosa counties. More than half of the requests are for medical settings, including mental health appointments, followed by employment-related and meeting requests. Nearly 85% of requests are for onsite/in-person assignments. In response to the pandemic, RAS began offering online sign language interpreting services and about 15% of requests in the last nine months have been for online interpreting.

Additionally, in 2021, RAS will be expanded to include live captioning, referred to as Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services. For the purposes of this project, all areas outside of the Front Range are considered to be rural because of the lack of qualified interpreters outside of the Front Range. The interpretation comes at no cost to the provider or the deaf consumer.

More information about the program and a form to request interpretation services can be found on the CCDHHBD's website.

The Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind (CCDHHDB) was established on July 1, 2000, as a Type II state agency to address the needs and concerns of Colorado’s deaf, hard-of-hearing and deafblind populations by Senate Bill 00-194.

Media contact:
Jordan Johnson, Communications Manager