State-Of-the-Art Lab

Ann Topliff
Front Range Community College

The Interpreter Training Program at Front Range Community College was recognized as a Program of Excellence by the Colorado Commission of Higher Education (CCHE) at an award ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in August, 1989. This award is for $70,000 a year for five years. The money is being used to furnish a state-of-the-art Interpreter Training Lab and develop materials.
Front Range Community College provided additional space and remodeled three rooms for the new ITP lab facility. The new Lab is large enough to be used as a classroom occasionally as well as accommodating the equipment that is being purchased with the CCHE award. The second room is utilized as an ASL Lab where students practice expressive and receptive sign skills, receive tutoring, and are videotaped for their various midterm and final exams. The third room houses the media resources needed for the lab. Three wooden cabinets with six and one-half inch shelves were designed and built specifically to hold videotapes.
Before finalizing plans for our ITP Lab, I contacted Janet Dobecki at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio, and Carol Patrie at Gallaudet University for information regarding their labs. In Columbus, I was able to tour their ITP Lab while Gallaudet shared ideas and plans about the lab that they hope to install. The information gained from these visits helped our two full time faculty members, Rachel Naiman and Lynda Remmel, and me to design a lab that would meet our needs.
With the first year’s award allocation, the lab was partially equipped with the purchase of a master console unit and five student stations. The language lab console has been customized and enhanced to provide state of the art multi-media teaching and learning capabilities. Ten more student stations will be added during the second year. The console is an ASC A54M teacher console that houses a master cassette recorder, a control panel, a Hi-fi room loudspeaker, and a microphone headset. The console was adapted to include a Panasonic CT1331Y color monitor and a Panasonic AG-6200 VHS recorder/player. Each of the ASC student stations has been equipped with video cameras, monitors, and VCRs to provide students with optimal opportunities for interpreting preparation.
Instead of purchasing commercial carrels, carrels were built to specific dimensions in order to fit the space available. The carrels were made of oak with acoustical tile treatment on the sides and back of each station. The carrels are 55″ high, 38″ wide and 36″ deep. Each carrel has a full shelf that is 38″ wide and 26″ deep. The built-in AS4M cassette recorders are located on this shelf. There is also room for students to write or place their books. Above this shelfis a smaller shelffor the Panasonic CT-1331Y color monitor and the power unit for the camera. The Panasonic AG1230 VHS recorder/player is attached to the shelf under the monitor. The monitor and VCR are located on the left side of the shelf. The Sony DXC-I02 color video camera with an 8mm manual focus lens is permanently mounted on the back of the unit at the right side. This permits the camera to be focused constantly at the front of the carrel. It is not a camcorder and does not have any VCR capabilities. The carrels provide a sense of privacy since the students are not distracted by others while they practice their interpreting. They have opportunities to videotape themselves as frequently as they wish. The lab is equipped with a camcorder that can be used for videotaping specific student assignments or guest speakers. One of the walls in the lab was painted blue to provide the proper background needed for videotaping.
The lab is staffed with three lab assistants who are deaf. They facilitate the students’ access to the lab materials by operating the master console unit and checking out video and audio tapes to the students. During lab hours, students can either select video or audio tapes to use at the carrels for practicing. At other times they need to record audio tapes. Since the ITP lab is equipped with high quality condenser microphones in the integrated headset unit, the audio recordings produced are of superior quality. Extraneous noises are greatly reduced by the use of acoustical treatment in each carrel.
There are times when the lab is used as a classroom. Since the lab is only equipped with five stations at this time, students work together at each carrel. During class, one student can either be videotaped or recorded as she interprets to her partner. The instructor is able to monitor the students’ work while sitting at the console by either listening to each person’s voicing or viewing each student’s performance on the monitor located at the console. The students are not able to detect when the instructor is listening to their voicing or viewing their performance on the monitor. The master console unit allows for various programming options. The instructor can send a video program to every other carrel while the other carrels receive an audio program. Students can view videotaped programs on their monitor and videotape their interpreting performances. One of the instructors said that she can concentrate on each student’s interpreting because she is watching the monitor and is able to view their performances clearly at close range.
The ASL Lab is the second room that the college remodeled for ITP. It is smaller than the ITP Lab. This room is usually reserved for the first semester students to use for study groups and tutoring sessions. There is no permanently installed equipment in this lab. However, monitors and VCRs can be brought into this room to provide students with opportunities to view videotaped materials. This room also has a blue wall, because the room is used by the second-year students for testing purposes. The midterm and final exams for many of their skill classes are videotaped here.
ITP graduates, freelance and educational interpreters also have access to the Lab. They can register for four-week sessions that meet once a week during the year or attend intensive weeklong summer workshops.
During the next three years, additional equipment will be purchased and housed in the Lab and in the College’s media center. This equipment will include several video disc players, super VHS camcorders, VHS editing system, super VHS production camera, and a VHS duplicating system. Funds will be used to produce computer-aided instruction (CAD lessons specifically for sign language and videotapes for interpreting and transliterating. In addition, we are exploring possibilities for hosting teleconferences, participating in a faculty exchange with other Interpreter Training Programs, providing staff development activities, and hosting regional and/or national conferences related to interpreting.
We are proud to have been selected as a Program of Excellence by our state and are committed to furthering the growth of our profession by sharing our resources locally, regionally and nationally.
If you have any questions concerning the operation or equipment of the lab, please feel free to call me:
Ann Topliff, Department Chair
Interpreting & Transliterating Program
Front Range Community College
3645 W. 112th Avenue
Westminster, CO 80030
(303) 466-8811, Ext. 386

State-of-the-art lab at FRCC consists of the following equipment:

  • ASC AS4M teacher console prepared for 20 student positions
    laminated body and working surface
    lockable cover for control panel
    connection facility for up to 4 external equipment sources
    1 master cassette recorder, 4 track! 4 channel
    1 control panel for up to 110 student positions
    1 central power supply unit
    1 Hi-fi room loudspeaker
    1 microphone headset
    1 integrated monitor speaker
    power amplifier
  • Panasonic AG-6200 VHS recorder/player
  • Interface for multimedia network with video switching Panasonic CT-1331 Y color monitor

Individual student carrels include the following:

  • Individual, custom-made carrels with acoustic treatment 55″ H x 38″ W x 36″ 0
  • AAC-student position
    1 student cassette recorder with four motor drive
    AAC connection cable, up to 10m with two plugs
    1 cassette C60 microphone headset
    1 set mounting material
  • Interface at student positions
  • Panasonic AG-1230 VHS recorder/player
  • Sony DXC-102 color video camera
    Single CCD
    8 mm manual focus auto fris lens
    CMA-10 power supply
    mounting bracket
  • Panasonic CT-1331Y color monitor
  • Installation, cable, connectors, hardware, documentation & training