WWU Receives Grant to Expand ASL Facilities

American Sign Language interpreting students at William Woods University will have an expanded and updated lab in which to work, thanks to a grant from the Charles and Joanne McIlwaine Foundation.


The foundation has given WWU $7,500 to expand the capacity of the Charlotte Rose Hamilton ASL Interpreting Laboratory and enhance its functionality by networking the stations to facilitate student and instructor interaction.


The American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting program is one of the university’s most popular and respected programs. It prepares students to effectively communicate and interpret between ASL and English.


The four-year ASL interpreting program at William Woods is one of approximately 30 in North America, but the need for such programs is increasing, in part due to a new certification requirement. Beginning in 2012, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf will require applicants to hold a four-year degree to receive certification to be an ASL interpreter.


WWU currently has more than 150 degree-seeking students enrolled in ASL classes, 63 of whom are majoring in ASL or interpreting. The number is expected to grow significantly when the new certification requirement goes into effect next year.


Practice, assessment and feedback are key elements of the interpreting students’ educational experience at William Woods. The lab now offers 12 computer stations, which students use on a daily basis to complete their practice interpreting assignments.


The grant will allow for the addition of four student stations to accommodate additional students and networking of the entire center with the necessary software and updates that will enhance the functionality of existing equipment.


“Networking the computers to a server will allow us to interact with students in more productive ways and help the WWU interpreting program in becoming a national leader in this area,” Dr. Barbara Garrett, professor and director of the ASL interpreting program, said.


This is the second gift from the Charles and Joanne McIlwaine Foundation in recent months. To help William Woods University students keep up with the latest technology, the foundation last year awarded a $15,000 grant to WWU to fund wireless improvements on campus.


JoAnne Lee Dalrymple graduated with an associate of arts degree from William Woods in 1962. During her college days, she was active in the International Relations Committee, the YWCA and Woods Echoes yearbook. She went on to a career with TWA and later the Coleman Charitable Trust, Inc. and the Coleman Company.


During her professional lifetime, Mrs. McIlwaine was a supporter of her alma mater with annual fund gifts and matching gifts from the Coleman Charitable Trust. Charles McIlwaine was a donor to WWU after Mrs. McIlwaine’s passing, lending support to the university in her memory.




Harrison Jones (left) and Corey Pfautsch, both seniors majoring in ASL interpreting, demonstrate use of the ASL lab to Marianne Stone, president of the WWU Callaway Alumni Group.