Helping Expand Sign Language Education in the El Paso, TX Community

Melissa Cruz wordpress

American Sign Language (ASL) is a language involving signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the primary language of many Americans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and estimated to be utilized by 250,000 – 500,000 people.

At PRIDE’s Ft. Bliss site in El Paso, TX, many employees are deaf and hard-of-hearing. To facilitate communication between all employees and our customers, PRIDE’s Rehabilitation team of Job Coaches, ASL Interpreters, and Rehabilitation Counselors is ready to translate from English or Spanish to ASL, as well as Spanish to LSM (Lengua de Señas Mexicana/Mexican Sign Language) when needed.

Working to help individuals in the El Paso, TX community who want to pursue a career in sign language interpretation, PRIDE’s Ft. Bliss Rehabilitation Department annually partners with El Paso Community College (EPCC) to host two sign language student interns in the spring. This opportunity allows future interpreters and communication support personnel to gain hands-on experience, learn vocational sign language and practice their counseling skills.

In November, EPCC invited PRIDE ASL Interpreter and Job Coach (and EPCC Alumna) Melissa Cruz to present a lecture on Specialized Vocabulary for the students attending EPCC’s Sign Language course. Before joining PRIDE, Melissa worked in many different interpreting settings including post-secondary education, medical, mental health, and vocational trades.  She shared her insights on how to interpret on unfamiliar topics and/or specialized vocabulary (including vocational terminology), using her experiences in translating between employees and our military customer at PRIDE’s Integrated Facilities Management contract at Ft. Bliss. She received the following letter of appreciation from EPCC:

Thank you for partnering with the El Paso Community College Sign Language Interpreter Preparation Program on November 14th, 2018. I appreciate you taking the time to come in and share your experiences and knowledge with the students, who all left feeling inspired and energized. You taught our students how to acquire specialized vocabulary as a Sign Language interpreter, and they learned a great deal that they could immediately apply to their practice. It is indeed a gift when working interpreters come in to share their experiences and advice.

Thank you again for your time and energy in presenting to the interpreting students. It was truly my pleasure.”

“Hopefully my insight will give these students some preparation for an ever-changing profession,” said Melissa. “I’m so proud of where I work.”

PRIDE Industries is also proud to provide scholarships to students with disabilities enrolled in colleges and universities in specific areas where we operate, including EPCC.

Spotlight On: JC, Intern with PRIDE Industries at Fort Bliss

Juan Carlos_edited Blog

Juan Carlos (JC) Cordova is a student with a disability at El Paso Community College. Luis Miranda, Rehab Counselor with PRIDE at Fort Bliss, and Cynthia Baca, AbilityOne Program Recruiter with PRIDE Industries at Ft. Bliss, met him when speaking at the college about opportunities at PRIDE. JC needed to complete intern hours toward his graduation goals. After speaking with his parents and teachers, Luis and Cynthia arranged for him to intern with PRIDE Industries at Ft. Bliss.

Juan Carlos is getting his degree in Information Technology. For many individuals with Autism in particular, technical careers offer a good match for individuals who possess attributes like dogged focus, accuracy, and obsessive attention to detail. Since social environments can be challenging, accommodations may be required, but industry is waking up to the potential of individuals like JC. He works along with our own Kenneth Parris on anything from installing speakers for meetings, repairing computers, installing technology devices for employees, to updating computers at all shops.

JC would welcome the opportunity to work as an employee of PRIDE in the future. He is working hard to prove himself through his attendance and dedication. He is happy and eager to get to work each day. His supervisors report that JC is responsible, a quick learner, and is always willing to work on any task given to him.

He also makes a mean superhero! The IT department at PRIDE – Fort Bliss came to work as the Avengers for Halloween – with JC as the genius creator, Ironman!

JuanCarlosIT_edited Blog