CCIE Accreditation Process: The Self-Study Review Journey
Jessica Bentley-Sassaman and Bridget Klein
As a member of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, you may be an alumni from an Interpreting Program, a mentor, a consumer of interpreting services, or an interpreting agency. These roles play a big part in assisting interpreting programs in the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (CCIE) accreditation process.
If your program is thinking about becoming accredited through CCIE, this article will discuss one program’s journey through the accreditation process and tips to help other programs get ready for their journey as well. One of the key reasons to pursue CCIE accreditation is proving that your interpreting program is one of high quality and has the level of excellence and rigor outlined in the standards. In addition, as awareness of accreditation through CCIE spreads, potential students and their families like to see that the program is following national standards. As an interpreting practitioner, you could potentially be asked to be a part of a stakeholder group for an interpreting program going through the CCIE accreditation process. You may also be a mentor working with students in institutions that are endeavoring to become accredited. Knowing the standards and exceptions may be beneficial to you. As many interpreters now graduate from interpreting programs, this is a great way you can give back to your own alma mater. And last but not least, as consumers of interpreting services, the Deaf community’s input is particularly invaluable.
Prior to Applying
Before applying for the CCIE accreditation process, go through the standards posted on CCIE’s website and determine if your program meets the minimum qualifications before applying. The standards focus on the institution (college/university), the faculty, the curriculum, and how the program stays current through programmatic reviews. Have each faculty member read over and familiarize themselves with the standards and what needs to be done so the process can be understood by all. One faculty member should take the lead on this process and work with the institution to set up a storage file for all of the necessary documents for accreditation. Time and support are the two key factors when preparing for CCIE accreditation.
Here is a list of items to consider doing before applying:
- Set up meetings with the institution’s Office of Planning and Assessment or institutional research office to go over the standards and where to find the data that is needed.
- Work collaboratively with programs or departments that have gone through the accreditation process and look at their documents to get an idea of how to develop and organize your own.
- Have your librarian and someone from your technology office write a report or talk about what technology and other resources are available for students.
- The institutional research office has information on graduated classes and evaluation forms that can help you provide data about your program graduation rates, how faculty are evaluated, how students evaluate faculty, etc.
- Assign faculty members various tasks related to the standards and set firm deadlines.
As our program began looking through the standards, we realized that we needed to set up a stakeholder group in order to get feedback from alumni, mentors, agencies, and the Deaf community. This was one of the first things we did on our journey. A document was developed in conjunction with the university’s Office of Planning and Assessment to outline our incorporation of the CCIE standards. The stakeholders had small group and large group discussions which provided invaluable information as to what the program’s graduates do well and where improvement is needed. Based on the feedback, we were able to incorporate curriculum changes to our program such as:
- increased exposure to world knowledge,
- addition of a Fingerspelling and Numbers course,
- practicum placements set up a semester in advance in order for mentor and student to develop a relationship prior to the start of practicum, and
- fostered involvement in more diverse Deaf events (as our university is located in a rural location).
The analysis of this feedback was indispensable in strengthening our program and enhancing the students’ abilities which will ultimately provide more qualified services for the Deaf community. This is the end goal. The involvement of the interpreting community, alumni, interpreting agencies, and the Deaf community was paramount in the entire CCIE process as many of the programmatic and curricular changes we made were based on their feedback aligned with the standards. If you have an opportunity to assist a program in the CCIE accreditation process, we strongly recommend that you do.
You are a stakeholder in the interpreting community, you see new interpreters, and you can provide important feedback.
Another key factor was to collect data from alumni and employers as to their satisfaction with our program. This is another place where alumni can contribute: work with your institution to develop surveys. It is a good idea to link the questions with the CCIE standards to see if you have met the requirements that have been put forth by the CCIE. Data should be collected from alumni related to job satisfaction as well as current certifications (state, national, or EIPA requirements). Separate questions should be included for employers, to see if their perception of program graduates meets the standards set forth by the CCIE.
Our program found that many of the answers from the alumni survey coincided with our stakeholder data. Both showed that the top areas in need of improvement were world knowledge and exposure to diversity. Based on the data, we incorporated current events into several classes. This included using the Daily Moth news stories as well as assigning students to find current events, rehearse a “news report”, and present it to the class. We hope this will help students open their minds to what is going on around the world. Since our interpreting program is located in a rural part of the country, it is challenging to give students exposure to diverse signers. We strive to find videos of diverse signers and settings to prepare our students for the real world. Nothing takes the place of face-to-face interaction, so we are working with our clubs to sponsor van trips to Deaf events that draw more diverse people.
Not all alumni keep in touch with their institution after graduation. We would like to encourage you to contact your institution and provide them with your most current contact information, certification(s), and what you are doing (freelance, educational, work in a related field, or work in a different field). We also encourage interpreting programs to make attempts to update alumni with newsletters or host luncheon gatherings to inform graduates of what is going on with the program. Luckily, many of our alumni had been in contact with the program coordinator and assisted in reaching out to their classmates and encouraging them to update their contact information. This led to higher numbers of alumni being contacted for our surveys. In addition, some alumni provided contact information for their place of employment. This allowed our program to target those agencies and school districts when collecting the employer satisfaction survey data. Our program is grateful for all of the alumni who assisted in completing the surveys.
For CCIE accreditation, students must have 300 hours of field experience in interpreting. These hours are a critical part of the learning process when students have the opportunity to shadow working interpreters, volunteer with Deaf or interpreting organizations, interact with the Deaf community, and interpret under supervision. It is important to figure out how to incorporate the 300 hours: they can be done in a practicum/internship, in community service format, etc. You have to consider if these hours will be credit bearing or if they will be a requirement of the major but not connected to a course. However you decide to break down the hours – community service, interpreting observation, service learning and then interpreting – interpreting does have to be 90 of the total 300 hours.
Our program had 180 hours already integrated into the curriculum. We needed to add in another 120 hours. Fortunately, there was an internship class that was already on the books as a professional studies course; it was written in a way that various majors could gain experience in their field. We specifically used the course to include the following elements:
- shadowing interpreters,
- volunteering to do projects for the Deaf community, interpreting agencies, Deaf organizations, or interpreting organizations, and
- interacting with the Deaf community.
After you have taken time to go through all of the standards and feel like your program is ready to move forward with the accreditation process, it’s important for all of the faculty to get together and have a conversation about who will be taking the lead in the process. The person who takes on this responsibility should be someone who is very organized and can get tasks accomplished on time. It is important to have buy-in from your faculty so that everyone will be motivated to do their part, whether it is small or large. Deadlines should be set for each standard and substandard. Having regular meetings to check in and show the program’s progress is imperative for the faculty to know what has been completed, offer feedback, and then see what still needs to be done.
It is important for your curriculum mapping to reflect the information in the standards. When working on curriculum mapping, a great idea is to get all of the faculty together and discuss what is taught in which classes, what textbooks are used in which classes, and what additional resources are provided in which classes. By doing this all together, you can ensure you are not overlapping information from one class to another unnecessarily and if you are overlapping, it is for a strategic reason or to build upon the principles taught. If you discuss a project, assignment, or activity your faculty does with their students that is included in the standards, that information should also be reflected in the curriculum mapping, with the activities aligning with one another.
The approximate timeframe for completion of the self-study review process is one year. You can consult with the dean of your college to provide release-time in order to work on accreditation. It is important to start working and planning your time to the fullest; this way, you are prepared for reviewing, writing, and submitting the standards in a timely fashion. Our program has recently submitted the self-study review process.
The process of the self-study review for CCIE accreditation has been very informative and has helped our program to make changes for the better. We did encounter some stumbling blocks, but were able to find solutions to overcome them. For example, some of the feedback that we received from our stakeholders related to the dispositions of the students. While we can teach students the importance of lifelong learning, that is not our responsibility to enforce after graduation. Continuing education is required through RID. Another example is that although our program was able to gather the necessary data, we learned that when applying for CCIE, if you realize you don’t have the three years’ worth of data the CCIE requires, you can submit what data you do have and also write up an action plan as to how you will continue to gather data in order to meet the CCIE’s accreditation standards.
A final important piece of advice is to have an external reviewer read over the documents. This could be someone from another office within the university or an alumni or both. By supplying this person with the CCIE standards, they can cross-reference what is written to the actual standards. This way, if something is overlooked, the reviewer can identify the areas that need more attention. We had support from the Dean’s office in reviewing the documents as well as an alumna who graciously volunteered to read over several of the standards.
CCIE accreditation is a worthwhile endeavor that allows you to really assess if your program is where it should be and to make programmatic changes for the better. We do not know what the outcome of our efforts will be as of yet, but we hope that we will become accredited and want to thank our stakeholders – alumni, mentors, agencies, and the Deaf community who assisted us along the way. It has been a journey of programmatic discovery and we feel this process has only made our program stronger.
Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education. (2015). Standards. Retrieved from http://ccie-accreditation.org/standard/