Posted on Leave a comment

Where’s the Welcome Mat? Opening the Door to Deaf Interpreters

Deaf Interpreters (DI) bring a wealth of cultural and linguistic experience to Interpreter Education. Jeremy Rogers investigated the DI experience with Education Programs resulting in some practical recommendations for how to better welcome them to the table.

Where’s the Welcome Mat? Opening the Door to Deaf Interpreters

In 2014, Eileen Forestal, PhD, RSC, presented at StreetLeverage – Live in Austin, Texas. One of the most poignant statements she made was, “Deaf Interpreters have been involved every step of the way since the beginning of the profession. Deaf Interpreters are here to stay. We will shape the future of the profession for all interpreters whose work includes American Sign Language and English” (Forestal, 2014). In 2016, I found that working Deaf interpreters and Deaf interpreting students did not share the same outlook.

[View post in ASL.]

I was introduced to the concept of Deaf interpreters early on in my college education. Originally majoring in elementary education, I decided to take American Sign Language to fulfill my language requirement. I randomly selected an ASL 100 course that fit into my schedule. The instructor happened to be a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI). Eventually, I changed majors to interpreting and transferred to Gallaudet University for my Bachelor’s in Interpretation. While at Gallaudet, I regularly observed Deaf/Hearing interpreting teams, as well as Deaf/Blind interpreting done primarily by CDIs. Having such consistent exposure to Deaf interpreters falsely led me to believe that working with Deaf interpreters was common practice. I quickly realized after I returned to California that this was not the case.

When I began working as a Video Relay Service (VRS) interpreter, I was again surprised to find that we did not have Deaf interpreters in the call center. Staffing Deaf interpreters seemed like such a logical component in video relay settings, especially having such high call volume for Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) calls. What was even more surprising was the number of colleagues I had whom had never worked with a Deaf interpreter before. Some colleagues even scoffed at the idea that they would need a Deaf interpreting team; after all, they knew ASL and had been doing this for years! I soon realized this was no longer a simple theme I was encountering; it was a very serious problem.

Research Process

I began my graduate studies at Western Oregon University in 2014. After considering dozens of topics of interest, it struck me: What is Deaf interpreter education? What does Deaf interpreter education look like and how can it be most effective? The magnitude of these research questions was overwhelming. I needed expert guidance, and so I asked Carole Lazorisak, a working Deaf interpreter, to join my research committee. There was no way I could define most effective approaches to Deaf interpreter education, as I am not a Deaf interpreter; I could, however, reach out to working Deaf interpreters and Deaf interpreting students to gain insight into their educational experiences. In June of 2015, the first national Deaf Interpreter Conference was held in St. Paul, Minnesota. I mailed consent forms to St. Paul to be distributed at the conference; out of 208 registrants in attendance, 52 registrants completed and returned a consent form. 8 additional participants completed the consent form. In the end, 9 participants were selected for an interview. Interviews were conducted via videophone or online video conferencing platform and screen recorded for documentation. Interviews were then transcribed from ASL to English; initial transcriptions were returned to the interviewees for feedback and corrections, and, once approved, the transcripts were coded for data.

StreetLeverage - Sign Language Interpreter Education Month

Findings of Research Study

While the full findings of the research study can be found below, I would like to share the more unexpected findings that came to light. I was disheartened to discover that there was such a common theme of interpersonal/intrapersonal strife amongst Deaf interpreters; that is, the negative perceptions that Deaf interpreters had of themselves, not only because of the experiences they had in interpreting programs, but also working in the field alongside hearing interpreters. Several interview participants reflected on their experiences in both interpreting programs and workshop settings and noted a strong sense of distrust by hearing interpreters; many of these same Deaf interpreters criticized the constant emphasis on interpreters’ hearing status rather than the skills and abilities they had to contribute to the interpreting process.

Perhaps the most disturbing theme that arose from the interviews conducted was the resigned acceptance of the conditions of our current climate. Several participants concluded that even though they recognized the injustices in place, there was very little to be done if they hoped to continue to work as Deaf interpreters. One participant went so far as to state, “I take it from hearing interpreters right now because I am working toward building my reputation and securing more opportunities for myself. If I am not careful with how I react, I am risking my job security” (Rogers, 2016). Another participant commented, “If the bickering and arguing and discord between Deaf and hearing teams continues, hearing interpreters are going to continue being resistant to working with us. And that means less work for us in the end” (Rogers, 2016).

Recommendations by Participants

Participants were asked for their insight and recommendations for improving Deaf interpreter education in existing interpreting programs across the nation; both working Deaf interpreters and Deaf interpreting students made the following recommendations:

  1. Stronger Deaf presence in interpreter education: participants stressed the importance of hiring more Deaf faculty members to teach in interpreting programs, as well as maintaining higher numbers of Deaf interpreting students so as to avoid any perceived or actual tokenism. Participants also encouraged interpreting programs to invite the Deaf community into the classroom to participate in interpreting exercises; this would allow for more authentic interpreting practice.
  2. Skill sets to be focused on: a strong emphasis was placed on Deaf interpreting students’ command of both English and American Sign Language, noting that being a heritage user of either language did not qualify a Deaf student as linguistically capable. In regards to curriculum design, participants generally believed that hearing and Deaf students should learn together in interpreting programs, but that some courses should taken independently to address skills specific to Deaf interpreters (i.e. gestural communication, expansions techniques, ethical decision-making practices).
  3. Support for Deaf interpreter education on a national level: as most of the participants were in attendance at the 2015 Deaf Interpreter Conference (DIC), there were several comments made in reference to the DIC. All comments made were supportive of the conference and many participants stressed the importance of continuing to provide opportunities for Deaf interpreters to gather at a national, or even regional, level; this would encourage a sharing of ideas and information, thus nurturing the growth of Deaf interpreters’ education and practice.

It is time for us, as a profession, as a community, to reflect on Forestal’s words and remember that Deaf interpreters are here

Jeremy Rogers
Jeremy Rogers

to stay. As a hearing interpreter, I am humbled and honored to have been afforded the unique opportunity to record and share the experiences of Deaf interpreters who came long before me; I wish to again thank all of the participants of this research study for their time and commitment to our work.

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper right-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

Questions to Consider

  1. What are your thoughts on Deaf interpreter education and curricula design?
  2. How can we address the interpersonal/intrapersonal issues plaguing the dynamics of our field?
  3. How can Deaf interpreter education gain more support on a national level?

References

  1. Forestal, E. (2014). Deaf Interpreters: Shaping the Future of the Sign Language Interpreting Profession. Street Leverage. Retrieved from https://www.streetleverage.com/2015/02/deaf-interpreters-shaping-the-future-of-the-sign-language-interpreting-profession/
  2. Rogers, Jeremy, “Deaf Interpreter Education: Stories and Insights Shared by Working Deaf Interpreters and Deaf Interpreting Students” (2016). Master’s of Arts in Interpreting Studies (MAIS) Theses. Paper 31. http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/31
Posted on Leave a comment

Designated Interpreters are Different: Examining a Growing Field

Alicia Booth outlines the unique relationship between Deaf Professionals and Designated Interpreters, particularly in medical environments. Role adaptation and flexibility are key to this new and evolving specialty area of sign language interpreting.

Designated Interpreters are Different: Examining a Growing Field

For half a century, the field of sign language interpreting has been steadily advancing, yet the interpreting needs for Deaf Professionals are developing at an even faster pace. Deaf Professionals (DPs) are achieving their academic and career aspirations in technical fields such as medicine, law, and engineering. Many DPs who achieve their career goals fought to have interpreters alongside them in graduate level classes, practicums, and clinicals. After securing accommodations, the next hurdle is finding a sign language interpreter who has the unique skill set and the willingness to adapt to a career specialty; thus the need for Designated Interpreters (DIs) for Deaf Professionals grows.

[View post in ASL.]

Since DPs are not traditional clients, it would make sense that neither are their DIs. Data from surveys of institutions of higher education, documentation from court cases[1], [2], [3], and anecdotal evidence suggest that a DP’s success benefits from a unique approach to accommodations. Personality and adaptability often rank as the most important qualities for their DI to possess, while mastery of ASL rank much lower. The willingness of the DI to linguistically specialize and assimilate into the DPs field is crucial.

Designated Interpreters are Different

Perhaps you may be asking yourself how DIs are so different and why those differences matter? Since I am drawing from my experience as a Designated Interpreter for Healthcare Professionals, I will share an environmental scenario in the hospital; however, these examples can be globally applied for DPs in most technical professions.  

Trauma Scenario: The DI and the DP (medical student) are both sitting in the doctor’s call room working on patient notes. Suddenly an overhead page indicates that a Level I trauma is expected to arrive in three minutes. You both rush out the door and head towards the trauma bay. There is exactly now two minutes left until the arrival of the patient, whom, you learned while rushing to the bay, was in critical condition from a motor vehicle accident, is unconscious, and is losing blood rapidly. With those two minutes, the DI’s preparation is crucial for the team’s outcome. There are also a dozen or more medical staff present to assist in stabilizing the patient. As a DI, you are filtering multiple conversations at once. You are also independently (without the direction of your DP) putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), setting up mics for better audio access in the room, introducing yourself to the trauma team, explaining your role, and establishing placement so that you are not in the way, but visually accessible, to the DP. The DP in those two minutes may have been on the opposite side of the room looking at incoming x‐rays, EMS reports, and also getting on their PPE. If that DI was to wait even a second (stuck in the traditional role of not acting on one’s own autonomy), the patient’s care could be jeopardized, as well as the DI’s own safety. The DI might even be kicked out of the trauma bay as an unnecessary bystander, still waiting for the DP to introduce you and for them to indicate what you should be doing and to whom you should be speaking. That DI’s inclusion with the medical team is actually what elevates the DP to be on an equal level with peers and supervisors. When there are only two minutes to designate roles and lives  are depending on efficiency, you simply cannot respond as a traditional interpreter does.

Now, this was an extreme example to indicate how DI’s must abandon roles taught to us by  ITPs, but re‐examined, we could certainly apply this type of autonomy in a less life-threatening  situation. That was a little on how DI’s are different. You may now have already guessed why it matters. Now, Iet’s dissect these questions a bit further.

Adaptability is Key

The traditional role provides a lot of safety for sign language interpreters but it works against the success of Deaf individuals in professional careers. With that said, some DPs do prefer traditional interpreters. We must always keep that in mind when customizing our approach to our clients’ needs. DPs share a common concern that sign language interpreters’ lack of adaptability and limited skill-sets are what prevents them from climbing the success ladder[4]. Some will overcome the odds, but may remain isolated amongst their hearing peers. Eventually, this will lead to plateauing in their chosen field.

DPs and DIs Develop Close Partnerships

Alicia Booth
Alicia Booth

The traditional approach to sign language interpreting shields us from encounters that challenge our neutrality. As DIs, our neutrality is still intact but our humanity is exposed. You can not hide your humanity as a DI when you are covered with blood from a patient, interpreting a terminal diagnosis, or witnessing a birth. Being exposed to death and birth will bring us closer to the DP and the medical staff supporting those patients. The DI may be invited to debrief with the staff after trauma. They may also cry or laugh with the DP and his team. That is part of the partnership. The role of a DI exposes their vulnerabilities, weaknesses and strengths which, in turn, can create a stronger bond between the DP and DI. It also helps level out the natural power dynamic that exists in the hearing and deaf world. In a partnership approach, you both have stakes in successful outcomes. Additionally, as a healthcare DI, you are taking up precious space that would otherwise be utilized by another doctor, nurse or student. Standing idly in “neutrality” is not considered a good utilization of resources.

Partnerships are created through on‐the‐job relationships with the DP and their peers. We are friendly, communicative, and responsive to questions. If we do not communicate autonomously and openly with or without our DP around, it will create immediate isolation for that professional. In other words, we are considered an extension of that DP. Stay with me here, I am not speaking on existential terms. Simply put, we are behaving as we normally would amongst colleagues. We are working to close the formal and informal conversational gap that often occurs with peers who do not share a language. DPs and DIs might finish each other’s thoughts on occasion – this is teamwork.

Either way, we are acting on acquired instincts and, together, our collaborative communication “closes the deal” for a PAH work environment to run smoothly. It becomes obvious why the DI’s personality and adaptability skills are highly desirable. Neither the DP nor DI wants to be stuck together if they are not able to effectively work together. Of course, the only way to create this level of trust is getting to know the DP on both a professional and personal level. How else could a DI read the DP’s thoughts and know when to share a favorite deaf joke, “Why did God create farts? So that Deaf people could enjoy them too!” to a doctor while performing a colonoscopy. It’s always a good laugh, and the doctor may be more likely to request the DP on another assignment because their experience with “our team” went smoothly.

Embracing Change

These scenarios only scratch the surface of the depth of this type of teaming environment. DPs are eagerly awaiting sign language interpreters that are ready to embrace change. An interpreter with the aptitude for learning, who is also humble enough to adapt to the DP’s needs will succeed in this role. While not all sign language interpreters are a good match for this work, those few that have this privilege are honored every day to be part of the DP’s world.

Let’s work together to advance our careers and DPs too!

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper right-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

Questions for Consideration:

  1. How are the current traditional interpreter roles holding back deaf professionals?
  2. What are the challenges of interpreters acting on their own autonomy?
  3. How does a Designated Interpreter adapt their role?

References:

[1] Swabey, L., Agan, T., Moreland, C., & Olson, A. (2016, May). “Understanding the Work of Designated Healthcare Interpreters” Retrieved August 11, 2016, from http://www.cit-asl.org/new/ijie/volume-8-1/#toggle-id-4

[2] U.S. Medical Schools’ Compliance With the Americans with Disabilities Act: Findings From a National Study. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2016, from https://uthscsa.influuent.utsystem.edu/en/publications/us-medical-schools-compliance-with-the-americans-with-disabilitie

[3] Eligon, J. (2013, August 19). Deaf Student, Denied Interpreter by Medical School, Draws Focus of Advocates. Retrieved August 11, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/20/us/deaf-student-denied-interpreter-by-medical-school-draws-focus-of-advocates.html

[4] “Breaking Down Barriers: Professionals and Students in Healthcare” (n.d.). NADMag, Spring(2016).

Posted on Leave a comment

Accept or Decline? Questions Sign Language Interpreters Should Ponder

Michael Ballard suggests that sign language interpreters must begin making decisions before an assignment ever begins. Utilizing pre-assignment questions can bring practitioners more clarity when determining readiness for a job.

 

Hello, everyone. I’m Michael Ballard and I’m thrilled to be with you today for Street Leverage. It’s an exciting time. A little about myself: I grew up learning speech and lip-reading in California and I learned to sign at age 15, and I sign still today. My identity underwent a significant change when I started to learn ASL as I began to interact with a variety of Deaf peers at my high school. Through their instruction, my signing ability greatly improved, and I’m still always learning. I also have to thank the friends of mine who are interpreters. Without your hard work, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

[Click to view post in ASL.]

I had been giving thought to this when Brandon Arthur approached me at the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf conference in New Orleans and asked if I was interested in filming an article. I agreed, and after some thought decided to speak on an issue close to my heart and mind: an interpreter’s thought process when accepting or declining a job.

Defining the Lens

This article’s lens uses as a foundation Dean and Pollard’s 2001 research on Demand Control Schema, or DCS[1]. An interpreter needs to fully grasp both concepts of what constitutes the various demands and controls before accepting an assignment.

Demands and Controls

The category of “demands” can be broken into four parts:

  • environmental demands: terminology, technology, roles, physical environment
  • interpersonal demands: that which is specific to the interpreter and clients involved
  • paralinguistic demands: That which is specific to the expressive skills of the client (deaf or hearing)
  • intrapersonal demands: That which is specific to the interpreter (inner thoughts, feelings, bias, physical/emotional state)

The concept of “controls” describe what a person can exert influence over in the situation, such as:

  • actions or behavior,
  • Particular translation/interpretation decisions
  • Internal/attitudinal acknowledgments

Accurately Assessing Readiness

Before I go on, I would like to note the word “anosognosia,” a term coined in 1999 by Dunning-Kruger in an article at Cornell University[2]. The phenomenon of anosognosia arose to describe research participants’ excessive overestimation of their skills and abilities, and the tendency of we as humans to inflate reality so it reflects positively on ourselves. However, it is only through recognition of error that we can reflect and grow. It then follows that interpreters could be prone to the overconfidence that comes with anosognosia, and should make every effort not to overlook that tendency.

Pre-Assignment Analysis

I’d like to pose some overarching questions for interpreter analysis. As an interpreter, one should ask: Do I possess enough controls to satisfy the demands of this assignment? Each of the following sub-questions should be considered through self-analysis and review using a Likert scale approach (1=weakest ability to 5= strongest ability).  

  1. Do I have sufficient linguistic skill and content knowledge in the necessary languages to meet the needs of this assignment, and to interpret or translate with accuracy and cultural equivalency?

It is incumbent on the interpreter to communicate with the managing entity to get all relevant details and demands of the assignment to make that determination. That process takes experience.

Michael Ballard
Michael Ballard

At my first staff-faculty meeting at the start of the semester- I am an ASL instructor and moved recently for the job- it so happened that several colleagues wanted to learn some signs, so I invited them to join my class. After two weeks, we attended a meeting to which an agency interpreter had been assigned. The interpreter was not certified or licensed and was clearly incompetent. I was consequently unable to participate in the meeting because I couldn’t understand the content. During the meeting, a colleague texted me and asked about the interpreter because they were noticeably confused and fumbling. I gave feedback about the interpreter to the agency after the meeting on the need to improve the quality of services, and it is my hope that in the two years since that meeting that they have improved. That is an example of the necessity of an interpreter possessing the linguistic skills and knowledge required in an assignment in order to interpret effectively and accurately.

  1.  Am I psychologically and emotionally stable enough to perform the job requisites? Can I interpret without having a negative influence on the parties involved?

Due to the unpredictability of assignments, an interpreter must be mentally and emotionally capable of handling unexpected events.

For example, at the birth of my oldest daughter- we have four children- the interpreter at the hospital was respectful, competent and professional and made the experience as seamless as possible, even given the 3:00 A.M. delivery. I’m grateful to have had that positive of an experience. We specifically requested the same interpreter for our second child’s birth because the first experience had been so wonderful, and it made the day that much more fun. However, at the birth of our third child my wife and I were terribly disappointed at the assigned interpreter’s lack of professionalism in their behavior- they were flirting, making jokes and in general being inappropriate. It was upsetting for my wife to be actively in labor with an interpreter interjecting in the midst of everything. Unfortunately, it’s an example of an interpreter not possessing the mental and emotional clarity to navigate that type of situation, and that lack of self-regulation has a serious impact. 

  1. Am I taking this assignment because I’m qualified, or because I want the experience?

As I mentioned, our first two childbirth experiences were exceptional because the interpreter was qualified, but I wonder if the interpreter in the third birth accepted the job solely to gain more medical interpreting experience. I didn’t think to inquire at the time because I was focused on my wife, but the question for me remains. I suggest in those situations that an interpreter looking to gain experience instead ask to observe or mentor with a qualified interpreter and select appropriate assignments rather than cause a situation where communication access in high stakes settings is in jeopardy due to ill qualifications.

  1.  Does my preparation vary based on my views of what kind of Deaf client or position is seen to be “high profile” or not?

My belief is that there is no hierarchy of clients or professions- a Ph.D. should be approached with the same respect and care as a welder, teacher, nurse, carpenter, stay at home parent or any other occupation or station in life. All have value, but are interpreters investing the same amount of time and energy in preparation to reflect that? Interpreters should take the time to examine assumptions of what merits varying levels of preparation and not unfairly weight some assignments or clients above others. Providing interpreting services in a kindergarten or first grade is just as critically important as interpreting doctorate courses, and we need to examine bias, appreciate the human element and rethink how to approach “high profile” vs “low profile” assignments. 

  1. Am I able to keep my bias in check?

A common phrase among interpreters is one on neutrality in assignments: “I’m neutral, not getting involved,” etc. Metzger (2011)[3] states that the idealistic “neutral conduit” does not exist. Your biases affect and effect how exchanges take place. Will my presence lead to further oppression of a marginalized group or build bridges that bring groups together? An interpreter should be aware of biases and look for ways to mitigate any negative impact on the interpreted product. For example, if an interpreter finds themselves in a situation where they feel strongly about communication modes being discussed for cultural or educational reasons, or perhaps are interpreting political views that may contrast their own, it is important that the interpreter recognize biases and thoughtfully consider their ability to provide quality service. If it’s not possible, they need to excuse themselves from the assignment or allow a team interpreter to interpret. An interpreter not possessing adequate controls will ultimately deliver a flawed product. Ideally, an interpreter should be mentally and emotionally aware enough to recognize biases and determine qualifications and fit prior to the assignment.

Post-Assignment Considerations

I’d like to shift focus from pre-assignment self-analysis questions for considering to post-assignment questions. In my estimation, it’s rare that in-depth analysis post-assignment happens as often as it should, but it is worthy of thought. Similarly to the initial set of questions, these would be helpful to answer using the Likert scale method:

  1. Am I confident that my interpretation was linguistically and culturally accurate in both English and ASL?
  2. What would I do differently if and when I am in a similar context, linguistically, interpersonally, etc?
  3. Finally, did I approach the client after the assignment to provide clarifying comments or check in about comprehension?

Considering these questions both before and after each assignment will help develop a stronger awareness of self and decision-making process.

In the End: Gratitude

Again, I want to reiterate that without interpreters, I wouldn’t be where I am in my life today. My life journey would look completely different. For all of your hard work, the hours of training, your minds and hearts, blood, sweat, and tears- many, many, thanks. I look forward to seeing you around in the community and will gladly accept any questions on this article. Enjoy your day.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How might I better solicit meaningful advice and feedback from my clients as a resource to maintain a healthy self-appraisal?
  2. What do I do to gauge emotional readiness to interpret in any given environment?
  3. What mechanisms do I employ to keep my bias in check while interpreting?
  4. What does “high profile” mean and how does that definition play a part in my preparations?

References:

[1] Dean, R.K., & Pollard, R.Q. (2001).  Application of demand-control theory to sign language interpreting: Implications for stress and interpreter training.  Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 6, 1-14.

[2] Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 77, 1121–1134.

[3] Metzger, M. (2011).  Sign language interpreting: Deconstructing the myth of neutrality.  Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

Posted on Leave a comment

What Are We Really Saying? Perceptions of Sign Language Interpreting

Kelly Decker examines common ways sign language interpreters frame the task of interpreting and peels back some of the implications and impact on the field and the larger communities served.

Sign Language Interpreter Framing Their Work

Sign language interpreters are taught that meaning is conveyed through accurate word choice. Do we give the same considerations to word choice when we label and describe interpreting itself? How do our words and actions frame our work?

As a professional sign language interpreter, I would like to address some of the language used when conversing with colleagues, training new interpreters, and depicting the profession to the mainstream media. The frames we use, as a profession, have the power to devalue the work we do, and by extension, the communities we serve. Continued reinforcement of these frames impacts public perception of sign language interpreting.

[Click to view post in ASL.]

It takes years of intentional practice, reflection, and dedication to develop competence as a sign language interpreter. Platforms such as Street Leverage allow us to continually highlight and examine the ways we have yet to grow. MJ Bienvenu’s Bilingualism: Are Sign Language Interpreters Bilingual and Carol Padden’s Do Sign Language Interpreter Accents Compromise Comprehension? illustrate two fundamental problems we face in the field.

While we have begun to address the language we use to talk about our work, there is more work to do. I have selected four examples which demonstrate various ways interpreters contribute to current understandings of our work. There are many other examples that could be analyzed. I encourage you to contribute to this conversation online and with your colleagues to further examine how our use of language can contribute to a misperception of our profession and the disenfranchisement of the Deaf community. These types of conversations lead to greater awareness, which can be a catalyst for change.

The Labels We Use: “Terp”

It is not clear to me where this abbreviation came from. A cursory search on the internet found that it is cited as slang for “interpreter” and paired with the word ‘deaf’. We work with marginalized communities who are continuously disenfranchised regardless of the abundance of evidence and research regarding language, intelligence, and Deaf Gain [1]. We deflate our profession and the work we do for the sake of a few saved keystrokes.

This word “terp” (and I call it a word since it has become commonplace nomenclature and somewhat of a phenomenon within our field [i.e. TERPexpo],) is used primarily in written English when interpreters communicate with and refer to each other, and when interpreting agencies make requests for “terps”. The use of the term “Terp” does not stop within sign language interpreting circles. Since it has become somewhat the norm internally, it has spilled out into the larger community as the preferred label for what many interpreters want to be called. I feel this does a disservice to the field. I am an interpreter.

Misleading Terminology

“Hands-up”

As I understand it, in most instances, this phrase refers to actual interpreting. I come across it when dialoguing with ASL/English interpreting students. This term is used in practicum to indicate a requirement that is different from observation hours – the need for “hands-up” hours.

When sign language interpreters in the field and educators in interpreter education programs use this term to talk about the work we do, it implies that interpreters only interpret in one direction, into American Sign Language. It implies that Deaf people have nothing to say nor contribute. In reality, our work is working between – at least – two languages. This misguided idea is further bolstered by how our national organization frames the act of interpreting. The interpreter certification exam tests interpreting capabilities and decision-making. Yet ASL vlogs, created by RID, refer to the performance portion of the interpreting exam using a gloss that gives the literal impression that the exam is a “signing test”[2].

As explained above, “hands-up” addresses only half of the work we do. Or does it? When colleagues say “I prefer to work into ASL, it’s easier” or “I don’t do any ASL to spoken English work,” is it because interpreters, too, believe that interpreting is only done in one direction?

Additionally, the term “hands-up” perpetuates the erroneous notion that sign language interpreters, most of whom are second language learners of ASL, prefer to work into ASL because they are “comfortable”, “have more experience working into ASL,” or “feel they are clear”.  Substantial evidence is to the contrary [3].

Interpreting, and more broadly, signed languages, have little to do with the hands. While sign language is expressed in a visual modality, the hands are but one element of that mode. Language is rich and complex. It conveys thoughts, emotions, and abstract ideas and it results in human connections. Language is influenced by and interwoven with culture. It is impacted by generational, intersectional and regional influences. Reducing an entire language to its modality is a prime example of how the dominant language and culture exerts power over and diminishes a linguistic and cultural minority.

“Voicing”

This term “voicing” has become commonplace within our field as a descriptor for the spoken language work we do as interpreters. It is a descriptor that oversimplifies the nature of the work, as if it requires no cognitive decision-making by the interpreter, nor cultural brokering between the two languages, and that the interpreter functions simply as a sign-by-sign voice over.  In Jessica Bentley-Sassaman’s article, Taking Ownership: Defining Our Work As Sign Language Interpreters, she states “voicing” does not appropriately state what we do, what does is naming what we are actually doing when interpreting.

As the profession continues to use the term “voicing”, I believe that we perpetuate a medical perspective on deafness. It bolsters the idea, that when deaf people use sign language they need to be fixed somehow, given a voice, and that’s what interpreters are doing.

This portrayal of the work reinforces a view held by the majority culture that  the language used by the Deaf community is somehow deficient. This misconception is propagated by the Alexander Graham Bell Association, whose position was made public [4] after the televised accomplishments of Nyle DiMarco, that desirable language development and outcomes for deaf children are only possible when focusing on listening and speaking, both of which are deeply rooted in the deficit-based medical model of what it means to be deaf.

As sign language interpreters, I believe we ought to unpack the implications and impacts of how we frame our work.

Perceptions of Professional Interpreters: Shake It Off [Interpreter Version] [5]

This video was so popular on social media after its release in December 2014, that the video’s participants were a part of the entertainment during RID’s 2015 national conference in New Orleans, LA. I have cited this piece not based on its participants but as an example of how we portray who we are, what our work entails, and how we approach the task of interpreting.

From what I gather, this video was made as a parody, a day-in-the-life of a sign language interpreter. All joking aside, what I cannot shake off while watching this video without audio input, is that it clearly represents misconceptions about the work we do:

(1) we only work into sign language, as the tired arms, hands and fingers portray;

(2) we only do this work for the money, as the interpreter runs off screen following the dollar bills;

(3) we self-medicate, as the abundance of pills clearly shows; and

(4) we can brush off the significance of the task of interpreting, as the title of the song conveys.

This day-in-the-life video makes no mention of the substantial cognitive work we do, which is the foundation of the product we produce. The sole focus is the self-aggrandizement of the interpreter. We must consider how this can contribute to the  mainstream media’s abundance of misleading and demeaning pieces about sign language interpreters while #DeafTalent continues to go unnoticed.

Holding Ourselves Accountable

These examples are both subtle and not so subtle. As these flawed representations proliferate, we, as practitioners, as educators, and as a professional organization, become complacent and immune to the deleterious effect they have on our profession. We may dismiss it, saying, “This is the way we’ve always talked about the work,” “This how my interpreter training program said it,” or “I never really thought about it.”

We need to think about it. We need to talk about it. We need to question and remind each other when we use language that trivializes our work.

Mastery of interpreting is no easy feat. It is a labor of love, a demanding cognitive endeavor, and a dedication to craft. Above all, we are collectively accountable to representing our work with the utmost respect for the Deaf community.

How will you model talking about the work we do?

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper right-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

Questions for Consideration:

  1. The ways in which we, as a profession, talk about the work we do is anchored upon our understanding of what interpreting means. Are the ways we portray the work, the profession, and the communities we serve accurate?
  2. How do you think the ways that we talk about the work impact the profession?
  3. Do you have examples of times when dialoguing with colleagues where how they were talking about the work just did not sit right?
  4. With those examples in mind, how can you further explore what it is that did not sit right?

References:

[1] Bauman, H-Dirksen and Murray, Joseph. Editors. Deaf Gain Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity. University of Minnesota Press. October 2014.

[2] Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. RID Announces Moratorium on Credentialing You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6PM4a1tR7E Posted 9 Aug 2015.

[3] Nicodemus, Brenda and Emmorey, Karen. Directionality in ASL-English interpreting Accuracy and articulation quality in L1 and L2. Interpreting. Vol 17:2. 2015. p. 145-166.

[4] Sugar, Meredith. Dispelling myths about deafness. Online: http://www.agbell.org/inthe-news/response-nyle-dimarco/ Posted 1 April 2016

[5] Ott, Stephanie. Shake It Off [Interpreter Version] You Tube https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=DS2UdoXS3xA Posted 13 Dec 2014.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

[Archives] Marginalization Within the Sign Language Interpreting Profession: Where is the Deaf Perspective?

Our archives are filled with the generosity of our presenters and contributors. It is often enlightening to look back at the path which leads to the present. To that end, we offer this glimpse into the StreetLeverage archives. This presentation was originally published on April 23, 2014.

Nancy presented Marginalization Within the Sign Language Interpreting Profession: Where is the Deaf Perspective? at StreetLeverage – Live 2013 | Atlanta. Her talk explored how the intersectional dynamic between the deaf and sign language interpreting communities has literally been lost in translation amid dramatic and still-evolving changes within the field of sign language interpreting.

You can find the PPT deck for is presentation here.

[Note from StreetLeverage: What follows is an English translation of Nancy’s StreetLeverage – Live 2014 presentation. We would encourage each of you to watch the video and access Nancy’s original presentation directly.]

Marginalization Within the Sign Language Interpreting Profession: Where is the Deaf Perspective?

Nearly 50 Years of Advancement

Where do we actually find the perspective of Deaf people (Deaf community) within the interpreting profession? Actually, the answer to this question may better be answered by asking, “Who here is Deaf?”  Please raise your hand if you are Deaf. Point made. There are few of us here so where do you get our perspective?

There has been a large number of dramatic changes over the relatively short history of RID and we have come a long way in the establishment of the profession. When I say dramatic changes, I do not mean to imply that change is bad. There have been wonderful advancements and many, many very positive outcomes. I value my personal and professional relationships with interpreters and many in the Deaf community feel the same way. In spite of those sometimes very strong relationships, I would like to focus this presentation on how to better involve deaf people within the decision-making structure of the sign language interpreting profession.

Marginalization – and Underrepresentation – of Deaf Persons

I feel that just as there are few deaf voices represented here, there are just as few represented in other areas as well. Deaf people need to be not only welcomed but invited to the decision-making tables of the interpreting field. At the profession’s birth and infancy, the Deaf voice had a stronger presence and over the 50-year history of RID, that voice has been less and less present. We have been underrepresented in all aspects of the interpreting field and industry and I will share with you some ways that can change.

Deaf Perspectives & Contributions Consistently Undervalued

I opened my talk by saying that there have been many positive advancements in the interpreting field over the last 50 years, but with those changes, there have also been some inherent weaknesses that have become clear. One such weakness is not including Deaf people in the evolutionary progress of the field and industry. This fact leads to the important step of asking ourselves why this has happened.

Before I go any further, I do want to apologize for depending on my notes so much. I have recently gone through treatment for cancer and the medications have left me unable to rely on my memory like I used to.

When I say that Deaf people have not been involved in the evolutionary progress of the field, I am pointing a finger at the whole industry. I see the same trend in interpreter education, ethics, testing, certification, professional development, national, regional, and local service organizations, research, mentorship, interpreting service providers/agencies, and joint efforts by the Deaf and interpreting communities, and so on. By not including Deaf people in all of the advancements within the industry, the field misses out on the benefits and contributions that can be gained by their inclusion. The Deaf-Gain.

The Deaf community has not only felt unwelcome and unvalued, we have been uninvited. At this point, we need a personal invite to know that we are welcome and valued. I challenge each of you to invite a Deaf person to the next StreetLeverage Live. Deaf people from within the field but also anyone that the industry could benefit from hearing from should attend. I intend to go as a participant and I hope to see an audience of half deaf and half hearing. Let’s commit to making that happen so that we all can benefit from each other.

Duplication of Effort

Another trend I have seen over time is the duplication of efforts within the Deaf and sign language interpreting communities. I would encourage everyone to look across the fence to see how you can create successful collaborations toward better outcomes for everyone. For example, I am aware that in some states the RID chapters have a close working relationship with the NAD state association but in other states that is not the case. Take a look at your own area and let the states that are doing this successfully be your guide. Work to establish strong collaborations in your local area in order to better support each other’s efforts.

It is high time to weave Deaf people into the tapestry or mosaic of the interpreting field. With a critical eye, we need to look within to examine why there has developed and remains such divisiveness between the Deaf and sign language interpreting communities and between niche groups within both communities. We need to do that important work before we can move forward.

I have always viewed interpreters as my ally or my partner. I do not want to work with any service provider, whether they be my doctor or anyone else, unless they view me as their partner, too. The idea of partnering between the Deaf person and the interpreter is not a mindset I see enough in my local area, of St. Augustine, Florida. I lived in Maryland for 34 years and was very fortunate to work with so many interpreters that did approach our relationship as a partnership so moving to Florida where I have not found that to be the norm has been a little bit of a culture shock. I have taken it upon myself to share my experience and informally mentor a few interpreters with the hopes that they can change their model.

I do have a vested interest in seeing the field of interpreting grow. I say this because I see the domino effect of what can happen when the field includes more Deaf perspective (Deaf-Gain). It improves the quality of the work sign language interpreters, which in turn will make the efforts of both the Deaf and interpreting community more effective. We have not even begun to tap into the potential of that collaboration.

Deaf people can be valued, contributing, and equal players in the interpreting field’s growth.

“For Hearing Interpreters Only” Mindset

There are many examples where this statement plays out. I have been to countless interpreter events on local, state, and national levels where the predominant language being used is English. That simple act by the attendees leaves me feeling left out, unwelcome, and disrespected. The result is that I feel as if I am an outcast in my own community and if you have experienced this, you know it is definitely not a good feeling to have.

Nancy Bloch
Nancy Bloch

I have been to some events where the speaker is using English and sign language interpreters are provided but there is someone signing ASL on one far side of the stage and someone else signing a different way on the far side of the stage. As a participant, that scenario is confusing at best. I never know where to look when what I really want to be doing is looking at the speaker and an interpreter that I understand within the same field of view. A simple request but you would be surprised how often it does not happen. Over time, the trend to move the interpreter closer to the speaker has been occurring but it is still not as good as having the presenter sign for themselves. Seeing a message from the source is better than through an interpreter so I say the way to get beyond the ‘for hearing interpreter only’ mindset is to establish the expectation that at events for interpreters and Deaf people, everyone will use the common language of ASL.

Unlike spoken languages that have a geographical location where the language is used, there are so few opportunities for sign language interpreters to use ASL exclusively for an extended period of time. Interpreting-related events like conferences are the perfect opportunity for a language immersion experience. This creates a rich opportunity for learning, giving and sharing, and a win-win for everyone. When Deaf people feel welcome at interpreter events, then the collaboration between our two communities has a better chance of occurring.

The unintentional consequence of using English predominantly at conferences and other events is that new and potential interpreters are getting exposed to and modeled a defacto standard that has to stop. If interpreters are not just giving lip service to wanting to be involved in the Deaf community more, then the predominant language needs to be ASL.

I’d like to share a scenario that I witnessed to illustrate the significance of an all-signing environment. I attended an RID conference while Jimmy Beldon was on the national board. He was the only Deaf board member at the time and in the large conference hall where the board was sitting on the stage in a row behind tables. The meeting had not started yet and as I was sitting in the audience with about 2000 other RID members. I saw two hearing board members who were quite able to use sign language speak to each other over Jimmy who was sitting between them. I actually had to check myself to make sure I was seeing things correctly. It made no sense to me and I know that Jimmy felt incredibly awkward and unsure how to handle that situation. This happened because those hearing board members had been using English to communicate during the conference and just continued to do so right in front of, literally, a Deaf colleague.

I can not say it any more plainly, a lot of good things can happen if the playing field is simply leveled by providing direct communication access to every participant. Doing so creates a mutually respectful environment where everyone can participate.

Economics Over Culture and Community

Since I only have 5 minutes left, I am going to tell you a funny…well, maybe not so funny…story. While I was working at the NAD, a private company hired us to organize a few focus groups to do some marketing research. One of the groups was made up of signing Deaf people but there was one participant that was hard-of-hearing and did not sign fluently so we hired interpreters for that person. When we hired the interpreters we made sure to tell them that this hard-of-hearing person needed to be able to see their mouth. Additionally, this particular focus group was of interest to the company so the company’s executives were with me watching the focus group through a one-way mirror.

One of the sign language interpreters was slouching, signing sloppily, and I was concerned that the hard-of-hearing participant would not understand him, so I wrote a note and had someone take it in and give it to him to ask him to sign more clearly and to sit up. He complied but when the focus group ended, he came around to the room that I was in and complained that he should not have been asked to change his way of signing. He said that he wanted to talk to the person that was in charge and that hired him. When I told him that it was me that had asked him to change the way he was signing and that it was me that had hired him he continued to argue. Unfortunately, this situation did not end well because when I gave feedback to the agency we had hired to secure the interpreters, I was met with a curt response of, “We will take your feedback into consideration.” This type of response was received by this agency more than once. I won’t say which agency it was, even though Anna Witter-Merithew has been teasing me that I should say who it was. We laugh about it but the situation was unsatisfactory.

Transformation

Since Brandon has asked me to keep my talk positive, what we have seen lately is that more and more Deaf people are getting involved in hiring sign language interpreters and running agencies and that can only be a good thing.

This afternoon’s workshop will focus more on how we can transform the profession. Transformation is not easy and certainly does not happen overnight. It has to start at the individual level to create a paradigm shift for far-reaching, positive, and lasting impact. We also need to see active involvement of Deaf persons and sign language interpreting-Deaf community alliances throughout industry. Alliances that have been successful in the past, like the Allies conferences of the 90’s, can be a good model for us. Involving Deaf people on every level of the sign language interpreting field will ensure core “Deaf Heart” values, beliefs and practices are reflected throughout the industry.

Without this paradigm shift within the sign language interpreting profession, we would not be true to the to the original reason the industry was established. Together we can and should work together.

We, the Deaf community, cannot be lost in translation.

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper right-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Bringing Scheduling Into View: A Look at the Business of Sign Language Interpreting

Pamela Collins presented Bringing Scheduling Into View: A Look at the Business of Sign Language Interpreting at StreetLeverage – Live 2016 | Fremont. Her presentation encourages a recalibration of the processes involved in scheduling sign language interpreters by taking a global and systemic view in order to ensure improved outcomes for consumers and interpreters.

You can find the PPT deck for her presentation here

[Note from StreetLeverage: What follows is an English translation of Pamela’s StreetLeverage – Live 2016 presentation. We would encourage each of you to watch the video and access Pamela’s original presentation directly.]

What is involved in the process of scheduling sign language interpreters? Whether it be in medical appointments or in an academic setting, most people are unaware of the step-by-step processes involved in scheduling interpreting assignments. In my own experience, before I was officially an interpreter, I did ad hoc interpreting for the community, which often happened at a moment’s notice. These requests came from Deaf community members in questions like,  “Pam, what are they saying?” In those situations, “scheduling” an interpreter meant being sought out by a community member and approached in person to interpret. That community connection and these ad hoc interpreting experiences, whether or not I felt qualified, continued throughout my studies to become a professional sign language interpreter. For me, all these experiences had roots that began in the community.

When interpreting became my profession, I maintained my community connections and continued to keep in mind the needs of the community and how I might best match my skill set to those needs. Recently, I’ve seen a shift in that practice and a growing gap, a disconnection from our community in how our profession approaches the scheduling process. It is true that Deaf people and interpreters all have a range of backgrounds and experiences, and sign language interpreters all have individual journeys to and through the profession in terms of knowledge, training and skill sets. When an interpreter is assigned to a job, how does one know if that interpreter is an appropriate match for that situation, and what steps are involved in that vetting process?

Are We Meeting Client Needs?

As mentioned, there is a clear link between the Deaf community and those who serve as interpreters. However, the circle of community has since widened to include those who interact as interpreter schedulers in the context of those who are establishing businesses to provide interpreting services. These growing number of agencies include many based on spoken language services, perhaps without an understanding of the skills, knowledge, and qualifications necessary to accurately assign ASL interpreters. These factors, along with my past experiences, led me to delve into a journey of self-analysis on how I gained the judgment to know when I best fit an interpreting situation. And again, I noticed changes in practice over time.

Over the course of my experience, I have increasingly felt pulled into interpreting situations for which I may not have been in the past. The days of Deaf community members inviting me into an interpreting task were fast diminishing. In their place came preset schedules handed to me by a seemingly faceless scheduling entity from an agency for which I work. I felt increasing conflicted by this process which seemed often to lead to an incorrect match. Instead, I yearned for a more global view of the processes being used in order to determine guidelines and protocols – all with a goal to create a better, more successful system.

Without such as system in place, can suitable scheduling matches be obtained, and is access achieved? As independent interpreters, we need to work with agencies to build a more comprehensive workflow that ensures appropriate interpreter-consumer matches. This requires looking at each step of the scheduling process in a measured way, including the role of the scheduler. In my research, I have included perspectives from several schedulers, as well as interpreters. One of my research interests included examining the backgrounds of schedulers as compared to interpreters, specifically regarding experience and training.

From Need to Assignment: How Does it Happen?

There are several steps involved in the scheduling process, and often many assumptions are made. There has been an evolution from the days of community-sourced interpreting to the advent of big businesses now controlling more of the process of securing an interpreter, which creates the appearance, whether real or imagined, of a greater disconnection of scheduler to community.  Blame is misplaced: it has simply become the reality of how large-scale requests are handled. Those hired to schedule are faced with scarcity of supply and great demand and are often bound to a specific process regarding interpreter assignment. With that in mind, who is responsible for looking at the larger picture? Who is attending to and identifying where ineffective or antiquated methods may be retired or revised? How can we arrive at a positive change?

Change starts with the people involved in the scheduling process. I began with interviews on the day-to-day life of schedulers and what their process entailed in order to get a better schema and clear understanding of their job. I then related that to a larger systems view, looking at how systems interacted and influenced those processes. It can be assumed that those who are hired to schedule will adhere to policies and practices as instructed in their job description, but those jobs exist in a system, a company, an agency where there are rules and policies which determine the processes that impact people. I then began to examine, still from a perspective of people, how systems were at work.

Dueling Roles?

Pamela Collins
Pamela Collins

Up to this point of my research, I had been focusing on how to find the best, most appropriate interpreter match for each situation. The other part of the equation is that the scheduler’s role often involves prioritizing timeliness in assigning interpreters. These two roles seem to be in conflict with one another, which calls for a more deliberate look at the impacts on the work of both roles- because ultimately, the Deaf consumer is impacted. What causes an interpreter to be misplaced in a medical appointment or academic setting? The analysis needs to start at the beginning of the request.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Typically, interpreters have viewed misassignment through a people-based lens – ethics, behavior, skill levels, etc., which all have value, but limiting our view to this lens can be short-sighted. Those people work within systems – systems which increasingly involve big business. In the United States, big business is a regular part of the equation and sign language interpreters must become more savvy about navigating spaces other than community-based settings. What used to be “Mom and Pop” shops have become corporate conglomerates where one may seldom interact with a person. As a profession, we need to study our own growing pains as we transition from locally-grown, community-based, ad hoc work to the intricacies of agencies, corporations, and government involvement. How are spoken language agencies winning government contracts and hiring ASL interpreters? We need to examine the whole structure of the system.

Institutional Ethnography

Institutional ethnography is the lens I took for my research. This methodology involves personal interviews – for example, documenting the daily life of a scheduler in map-like detail to see, with clarity, the work being done. Sections are added and expanded upon as needed. For example, if the scheduler mentions following protocol because of a certain system or individual in power, a map would be drawn of the manager’s or authority’s dynamic. Layers of complexity are added to include all involved, Deaf consumers, etc., to get the best picture available. In that way, scheduling processes can be fully visualized so all stakeholders in the community can assess and amend the process and determine if the outcomes are successful or not. So, we start with people, then expand to the systems at play.

Houston, We’ve Got a Problem

The research so far has validated that there is an issue. And again, this is not an exercise in finding a scapegoat. The goal is one of understanding the current policies and practices to find if access is being achieved. That’s a question we have to investigate more closely. In looking at that more closely,  I have personally experienced dismay and discomfort when assigned to jobs which may not have been the best choice. In those moments, I have wondered how this occurred. Who decides what an appropriate match is? The Deaf community also experiences these struggles, and we, therefore,  need to look at how that situation is occurring with such regularity.

In Closing

So, I’ve just distilled five years of research into a little less than 20 minutes. If you’d like more in-depth information, please attend my workshop. We will look at the scheduling process together. Together, we can isolate each piece and process to consider whether or not best matches are achieved. As a professional field, we have a collective responsibility to start exploring these issues. Other industries explore their issues to help determine successful paths forward. It’s time the interpreting field did the same work to change systems and practices by examining what is in place and determining how to adapt for more successful outcomes. Are you ready? I am!

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper left-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

Posted on Leave a comment

A Civility Revolution: A Call to Arms for Sign Language Interpreters

In a world where online and face-to-face interactions have lost a level of compassion and understanding, Diana MacDougall outlines a “Civility Revolution” to elevate the discourse of sign language interpreters.

A Civility Revolution: A Call to Arms for Sign Language Interpreters

The notion of “civility” has been tossed around these past several years, not only by the sign language interpreting profession, but in other professions (such as nursing and education), across the board on Social Media sites, and in ethics discussion groups, like the Institute for Global Ethics.  Everyone is concerned about how we are treating each other, and with good reason. In an era of social media, hit-and-run cyber-demeaning comments can be posted anonymously with impunity. Through the creation of the global internet and online social media (where nobody has to see our faces or know our true identities), we have somehow removed civility and humanity from interactive expectations.

[Click to view post in ASL]

#CommunityIsAccountability

In recent months, StreetLeverage contributors have posted articles on civility, accountability, diversityand social consciousness within interpreting. They are each timely, and yes, necessary, for our membership to read/watch. (After all, our own CPC tenet 5.1 reminds us to “[m]aintain civility towards colleagues, interns, and students” as a code we all agree to adhere upon joining our professional organization.) The most recent StreetLeverage conference in April stressed civil behavior towards each other in our interactions and discussion groups at least once a day. (And I have to say, this past conference was one of the most socially conscious and aware conferences I have EVER attended in my professional career!) Sitting back and watching the interactions of the participants and the leaders’ role model what civil interaction looks like, I began to think about what “civility” meant and what was needed to carry this movement to the next level. Centering our conferences and discussions around the notion of civil dialogues and accountability for our individual social behaviors is an important step towards a paradigm shift in how we interact with each other. But how do we take it beyond the intermittent “reminders” to “play nice”, if you will? What was it about this past conference that worked so well that could be replicated more consistently for ALL interpreting conferences, and carried over into our own lives as interpreters and as human beings?

Exploring Micro and Macro Levels of Interaction

As a Sociologist who studies social discourse, I often lecture on the concepts of the macro and micro levels of interactions. The “macro” is from an institutional, or large-scale level. The micro is from an individual or small-scale level. For the purposes of this article, I would like to consider our profession as the macro and our individual selves as the micro. I know that when I look at the larger schema of something—say, social injustice—I feel overwhelmed when trying to navigate my place in the world for change. It feels impossible, so I have a tendency to walk away from a global issue. But from the micro level, it feels more manageable; I can do something within my world—my life—to affect change. It is doable; therefore, I am more apt to participate in a social cause. At the micro level, we can see a ripple effect from our actions. It is a basic “cause and effect. Over time, our actions become habitual; therefore, changing how we behave. Because of our social interactions as humans, our behavior influences others around us. In time, other people’s behaviors affect larger groups, and ultimately affect social norms for what is considered—at the macro level—as appropriate behaviors within a society. So, with that being said, I am declaring a “call to arms”, of sorts. Yes, a revolution within our profession, starting at the micro level: us—individually!

Civility Revolution: Tools

As of today, I am declaring a “Civility Revolution”! What will be needed from us as collective individuals? Here are five values for what I believe we will need to “arm” ourselves for this revolution:

Moral Courage

The first would be a commitment to moral courage. Kidder defines “moral courage” as “[s]tanding up for [our] values”, stating that “having values is different from living by values” (2005). Moral courage requires “compassion” towards our fellow human beings.

Compassion

Compassion involves not only sympathy towards others’ experiences but empathy for them, as well. Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes will carry us far in being civil towards others.

Integrity

To be morally courageous and compassionate, we will need another quality necessary to arm ourselves in this revolution: integrity. To me, “integrity” means knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do right, whether anyone is watching or not, and whether it is uncomfortable to do so or not.

Accountability

Diana MacDougall
Diana MacDougall

Another piece of “armor” we need to put on is “accountability”. This is something missing in Western societies due, in part, to technology, where people no longer have to face their objects of critique. We have learned to say whatever we feel about others without thinking about the pain we may cause them. Learning to accept accountability for our words and actions is necessary for a Civility Revolution.

Commitment

And the last piece of armor we need is “commitment”. Individually, we need to commit to following through on living by our values. It is not easy; there are times when standing up for what we believe has a social price to pay. No one wants to be disliked (an American societal condition), and no one wants to be called a “moral busybody”. But, again, as we change our behaviors at the micro level, we eventually affect change at the macro level, and before long, civil behaviors towards others will become the status quo again.

Revolution in Action

The theory is a good one. But we’ve had enough of theory and “discussions” on the topic. What would this look like in action? 

Some ideas:

  • As individuals, we can interrupt audist/racist/sexist/etc. remarks when we see/hear them.
  • As individuals, we can choose to sign in Deaf/Hearing mixed environments for full access for everyone involved, even when others choose not to. (This one takes moral courage, but is SO doable; I believe in time, we will affect change in this arena if we are diligent in our commitment to this action.)
  • As individuals, we can respect the diverse perspectives we have within our communities by modeling the discursive language we use with each other.

Commitment to Civility

So, as you can see, “civility” is definitely an action word! We need to commit to standing together in our individual behaviors at the micro level by demonstrating collective moral courage through our common values of compassion towards our colleagues and clients. By committing to behaving with integrity through accountability for our actions, we CAN begin to affect change in how we interact with one another. So…are you with me? Who will join me in a Civility Revolution!?

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper left-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

Questions for Consideration:

  1. What are three specific habits sign language interpreters can develop and employ to elevate civility in interactions with colleagues? With those who utilize interpreting services?
  2. Remember a time when a colleague did not interact with you in a civil manner. If you could go back to that situation and experience it again with new tools and perspective, how would you approach the person? How can you apply this to future experiences?
  3. Beyond more civilized discourse, how can sign language interpreters and those who utilize their services benefit from this approach to engagement?
  4. How can sign language interpreters support each other in taking on this call to action?

 

References:

  1. Ball, C. (2012). What Role Does Civility Play in the Sign Language Interpreting Profession? Retrieved October 21st, 2015 from http://StreetLeverage.com
  2. DiFiore-Rudolph, G. (2015). Civility Within the Interpreting Profession: A Novice’s Perspective from December 29th, 2015 http://StreetLeverge.com
  3. Institute for Global Ethics. http://www.globalethics.org
  4. NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct. (2009) Retrieved June 30th, 2016 from http://rid.org
  5. Kidder, Rushworth, M. (2006). Moral Courage. HarperCollins Publishers. NY, New York.
Posted on Leave a comment

Scales of Justice: Legal Ramifications for Sign Language Interpreters

Traditional roles, responsibilities, and accountability for work product were challenged in a 2016 court case which will affect the work of sign language interpreters moving forward, particularly in legal settings.

Scales of Justice: Legal Ramifications for Sign Language Interpreters

On January 27, 2016, the Court of Special Appeals for the State of Maryland filed a ruling that affects the work we do as sign language interpreters. The case is Clarence Cepheus Taylor, III v. State of Maryland.1 This ruling centers on whether a Deaf criminal defendant has the constitutional right to confront the interpreter who interpreted his ASL statements into English during a police interrogation when the State offers those interpretations as evidence against the defendant in a criminal prosecution.2

The defendant, Mr. Taylor, was arrested on the allegation that he had sexually abused minors. A hearing interpreter and a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) interpreted while detectives interrogated Taylor for almost five hours. Later in court, a jury found Taylor guilty of abusing two of the seven complaining witnesses.

[Click to view post in ASL]

Although the appellate court looked at several issues regarding interpreters, the main issue in this case was whether or not the prosecution could include the statements interpreted to the police in English without calling to the stand to testify the interpreter who spoke the English.

Even though Taylor’s attorney objected at trial that an audio of an interpreter’s English-language interpretations of Taylor’s sign-language statements should not be admitted as evidence, the court allowed the jury to hear the interpreter’s voice for the almost five-hour police interview. Taylor took the stand in his own defense and contended that there were many “misinterpretations” and “miscommunications” between him and the interpreters.

How does this decision impact the lives of interpreters and Deaf people?

Interpreters are responsible for word choices and content of interpretations. According to the State’s brief, the interpreter was “merely a relay for Taylor’s own statements,” “simply conveying, in a different language” rather than providing the interpreter’s “own independent statements.” (Taylor p. 30). The appellate court disagreed. The appellate court recognized that interpretation is not a word-for-word process, but one in which the interpreter has control over the target language, in this case, English.

Police interviews need to be videotaped. The interpreters in this case were correct in having the interview recorded. Without the video, Mr. Taylor’s direct answers would be lost and only the English would remain. The videotaped recording was one of the main sources of evidence against Mr. Taylor. As stated above, the trial court allowed the State to play the entire English language recording to the jury. However, the appellate court made a distinction between the “video of the sign-language communications between Taylor and the interpreters” and “the audio of the statements by the ASL interpreter…” (p. 7). The appellate court realized that English is a distinct language from ASL and a truer understanding of what the defendant meant could be obtained through analysis of the actual signed statements. “The English words that the jurors ultimately heard in this case were not the words of Taylor, but of [the interpreter],3 expressing his opinion as to a faithful reproduction of the meaning of Taylor’s sign-language expressions.” (p. 34)

Even the best interpreters make errors, particularly when fatigue sets in. “Over the nearly five-hour course of Taylor’s interrogation, the two interpreters received only two breaks: a ten-minute break after about two and a half hours of testimony, and a two-minute break another hour later. Most of the more incriminating statements attributed to Taylor occurred during the later portions of the interrogation.” (p. 36). Interpreting services are expensive, but police interviews may need to be suspended until a second team of interpreters is available to relieve tired interpreters and monitor for errors. Interpreters are responsible to set limits on conditions that are not conducive to accuracy.

Tara Potterveld
Tara Potterveld

Both Deaf and hearing interpreters need to prove their skill level by obtaining education and certification. “Recognizing the high level of education, knowledge, skills, and judgment needed to produce faithful interpretations between English and sign language, Maryland typically requires that court interpreters of sign language undergo a rigorous certification process.” (p. 33). In Carla Mathers’ StreetLeverage posting, How Practicing Sign Language Interpreters Protect Against Legal Liability, she states, “An interpreter can be sued for malpractice if they undertake an assignment and do not follow the standard of care in performing that assignment. If this breach of the standard of care causes damages to any of the parties, the interpreter can be liable.”

Interpreters need to understand the adversarial legal system before accepting legal work. The Miranda warning and subsequent police interview are the first, and some would say, most important part of a legal case. Interpreters need to understand their roles and responsibilities. In this case, the detective told the interpreter to inform Taylor that anything he said could be used against him. The appellate court responded to this by stating, “A reasonable person in the interpreter’s position would expect that his English interpretations of Taylor’s statements would also be used prosecutorially.” (p. 23). This means that interpreters should expect to be subpoenaed and challenged on the stand for their interpretations. Interpreters should be ready to defend their English word choices or admit to errors. “The interpreter does not escape confrontation simply because he…did not personally observe any criminal act.” (p. 29)

Legal interpreters need to continually update their knowledge of legal decisions. For example, the legal concept of “admissibility of interpreted statements over hearsay objections” has changed over the past few years due to court decisions. (p. 42).  Unlike the past, when the interpreter was seen as a tool to decode languages other than English, now, an interpreter is “the declarant of his or her own statements about what the defendant has said.” 4 (p. 43). These changes recognize that sometimes the English that an interpreter speaks may not have the same meaning as what a Deaf person has signed. Taylor testified that the interpreter did not render the appropriate English of a conditional statement; “He testified that he told the interpreters that, if he had touched anyone, it would have been an accident, and he would have apologized.” (p.9). The statement was interpreted as a declarative stating that Mr. Taylor did touch the girls.

This decision is good for Deaf people. When stakes are high, Deaf people should challenge the accuracy of interpreters. Substantive interpretation errors should be “brought to light.” In other words, Deaf people should not be punished or disadvantaged by interpreter errors.

Conclusion

The 2016 court decision, Clarence Cepheus Taylor, III v. State of Maryland is a pivotal case in the interpreting field. It raises the issue of when an interpreter’s English statements can be used as evidence in trials without challenging the interpreter’s rendition. Going forward, we need the input of Deaf community members and Deaf and Hearing interpreters to help craft best practices and standards. Through dialogue and education, justice will be better served.

 

Nichola Schmitz
Nichola Schmitz

Nichola Schmitz, MA, CDI, SC:L, is a Trilingual Deaf Interpreter, specializing in Mexican Sign Language and Mexican gestures. She has a BA in Psychology and MA in Clinical Psychology.   Nichola has several generations of Deaf people in her family. She interprets mainly in legal and immigration hearings. She has trained Deaf and hearing interpreters in several countries including Ghana, Trinidad, and Mexico.

 

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper left-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

Questions for Consideration:

  1. Can the interpreting field develop standards for handling police interactions with Deaf people? What rules would you include in our “best practices”?
  2. How does a case like the one above change your approach to interpreting for the police?
  3. What other recent court decisions affect our work in the legal interpreting field?

 

1 The author thanks Carla Mathers for calling this case to her attention.

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him[.]”

Author decided against using the interpreter’s name in this article since the issues discussed reach far beyond this one instance.

See United States v. Charles 722 F.3d 1319 (11th Cir. July 25, 2013) (No. 12-14080)

Posted on Leave a comment

StreetLeverage – It’s Our Birthday!

Time flies when you are having fun! For five years, we have been honored to connect with you about the field we love so much.

5th Anniversary - SL Featured Image 2

It’s been a pleasure engaging with practitioners and stakeholders in the field of sign language interpreting for the past five years. A lot has happened in that time. StreetLeverage contributors and readers have engaged in meaningful and sometimes difficult conversations for which we are grateful. At the same time, we have had the opportunity to meet many new friends, reconnect with others, and attempt to create a space where conversation, self-reflection, and accountability are encouraged.

At StreetLeverage, we also believe in taking the time to celebrate the special moments, special people, and good times. This milestone birthday is one of those moments for us. Thank you for supporting and participating in the StreetLeverage endeavor. Raise a glass with us in celebration!

Here are some fun, unpublished facts to help celebrate our 5 year anniversary.

5th Anniversary of StreetLeverage

We’d love to hear from you! Please take a moment to share some of your own StreetLeverage memories in the comments section below. Here are some questions to start you thinking:

  1. What’s you favorite StreetLeverage moment?
  2. What is your favorite element of StreetLeverage (articles, social media coverage, live stream, LIVE events)?
  3. How many StreetLeverage – Live events have you attended so far? Why do you go?
  4. What StreetLeverage post has impacted you the most?
  5. What topics do you want to see covered by StreetLeverage?
  6. Who would you love to see present at a StreetLeverage – Live event?
  7. What is your favorite StreetLeverage – Live presentation and why?
  8. Who do you wish would write an article for StreetLeverage?
  9. If you wrote an article for StreetLeverage, what would you write about and why?

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper left-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

Posted on Leave a comment

The Whole Picture: Why Academic ASL Exposure Matters to Sign Language Interpreters

Ben Bahan presented The Whole Picture: Why Academic ASL Exposure Matters to Sign Language Interpreters at StreetLeverage – Live 2016 | Fremont. His presentation examines the challenges in exposing sign language interpreters to academic ASL due to limited representation in journals and academic environments.

You can find the PPT deck for his presentation here

[Note from StreetLeverage: What follows is an English translation of Ben’s StreetLeverage – Live 2016 presentation. We would encourage each of you to watch the video and access Ben’s original presentation directly.]

The Whole Picture: Why Academic ASL Exposure Matters to Sign Language Interpreters

Why is exposure to academic ASL important for interpreters? Because when we talk about academic ASL, we’re talking about discourse, and discourse is your business. So, it has to be important. This talk will address how we can build a better understanding of ASL academic discourse.

What is Academic ASL?

Jim Gee is a sociolinguist, a linguist, and a literary theorist, among other things. He has examined academic discourse and what comprises academic language. So, what is academic ASL? It is a particular usage of the language. We can analyze discourse at two different levels: the primary level and the secondary level. There are other terms for these levels which are used in the Common Core State Standards: BICS and CALP. But for our purposes, we’ll call them primary and secondary levels.

Primary discourse is the way we use language in the home. It is conversational language. Secondary discourse is what we use in other settings such as school, court, hospitals, public media, and the like. In these settings we shift how we use language, tailoring it to the particular expectations of the setting. Secondary discourse is often used in places of power, which govern how we are to interact, so we have to abide by their expectations. If our primary discourse is very different from how we’re expected to communicate in these settings, we have to learn the secondary discourse like it’s a second language. If, on the other hand, our primary and secondary discourses are not so disparate, then it is easier to navigate between the two. Often, privilege is reflected in primary and secondary discourses which are similar to one another. People who have privilege can interact in domains of power more easily. They have greater fluency in the secondary discourse because it is closer to their primary discourse.

Rules of Engagement

When we analyze academic discourse, we look at its rules of engagement. We examine how we engage in discussion, argument, and disagreement. We examine how we build arguments and support them with data. One such rule is conducting an academic argument with disinterest, with an emotional removal from the discourse. One becomes more objective, setting aside personal opinion and emotion, and engages in a discourse of ideas, not feelings. The goal of removing the discourse from the heat of emotional, personal perceptions is to connect with others in the realm of ideas.

A particular choice of words is another rule of engagement. It’s imperative to choose words or signs which conform to the academic level of discourse rather than the commonplace, primary-level vocabulary. Back in 1996 I went to a conference on infant cochlear implantation with Harlan Lane. He began talking with an esteemed doctor who was an advocate for early implantation. I observed their conversation through an interpreter. They couldn’t have been at greater odds with one another in their discussion, yet their tone was cool and dispassionate. Harlan expertly cited evidence to make his points. Despite their radically opposing positions on the issue, they were able to maintain the discourse because they followed these rules of engagement. Otherwise, they might have had to take it outside. This particular etiquette enabled them to engage successfully in the discourse.

Academic Societies

People assume that the responsibility to develop and teach academic discourse lies with institutions of higher learning, but it goes much deeper than that. In fact, the responsibility belongs to academic societies. Each discipline of study in the academy has its own approach to discourse. When you enter college, whether you go into history, science, interpreting, or psychology, you learn your field’s unique approach to citing sources and engaging in academic discourse. That knowledge is developed and embedded in each academic society. A society’s particular academic discourse evolves dependent upon three layers: the field itself, its ties to a professional organization, and the professional organization’s publishing of academic journals. The discourse learned in the course of study is then practiced at professional conferences — whether during formal talks or social discourse — which in turn leads to the ways academic writing is published in professional academic journals. All three of these layers contribute to the forming of a discipline’s academic discourse.

Academic Societies in the ASL field

One learns and develops academic discourse through these three layers. It doesn’t rest in the domain of schools alone. All three layers contribute to and create its meaning and form of expression in a given language. Now, we’ll turn our attention to ASL. ASL is our field. Within the field, we have the disciplines of ASL education, interpreting, linguistics, and we can include Deaf Studies, as well. Let’s examine the three layers as they pertain to the disciplines within our field.

Academic Societies: Interpreting and Linguistics

In interpreting, we confer the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Conference of Interpreter Trainers function as our professional organizations. As for journals, we have the Journal of Interpretation, the International Journal of Interpreter Education, and there might be some other smaller journals in the field. In linguistics, we confer the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Our organizations are limited to the Sign Language Linguistics Society and FEAST (Formal and Experimental Advances in Sign Language Theory), which is a European-based organization. The journals in this discipline are Sign Language Studies and Sign Language and Linguistics.

Academic Societies: ASL and Deaf Studies

Now, let’s look at ASL and Deaf Studies. We confer the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ASL, but not the doctoral degree as of yet. For organizations, we have the ASLTA (American Sign Language Teachers Association), but we have no professional journal. In Deaf Studies we confer the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but not the doctoral degree. We have no professional organizations, but we do have the Deaf Studies Digital Journal and the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. There are some interesting gaps here. Let’s look further.

Journal Languages in our Disciplines

The professional interpreting and linguistics journals are all published in English. Authors, therefore, submit work in written English. In the discipline of ASL Education, the ASLTA tends to submit work and get published in the Sign Language Studies Journal or in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, both of which are published in English. The other journal in the discipline of Deaf Studies is the Deaf Studies Digital Journal, which we’ve tried to establish as an alternative to the English language journals, and which has some issues that I’ll discuss in a moment.

How to develop ASL academic discourse if it’s not represented in journals and conferences?

What do we do about academic ASL? It doesn’t exist in our journals, which means we have no opportunity to practice it, refine it, and build a common understanding of what it is. If English is the only language of publication, how can we develop ASL academic discourse? As for conferences, StreetLeverage is unique. Most conferences about sign languages are held in spoken English. Those about linguistics are held in spoken English. You may have someone co-presenting in sign, but where is the opportunity to practice and perfect ASL academic discourse at conferences? When working on my dissertation about ASL, everything I was learning, everything I engaged in discussion about, everything I was reading, was done through English. Conversations with my advisor were typed in English because she was not fluent in ASL. When it came time for me to defend my dissertation in ASL, it was really hard. I couldn’t convey my thoughts about conditional markers and feature spreading in ASL. It all came out in English structure. Because all of the discussion and development of my ideas had occurred in written English, it was nearly impossible to transfer those ideas into ASL. I hadn’t had the opportunity to practice it, discuss it, and cement it in ASL. So, how can we build academic discourse in ASL? We must link academic study, conferences, and journal publication in ASL and then bridge the gap between academic English and academic ASL.

The Deaf Studies Digital Journal

The Deaf Studies Digital Journal (DSDJ) was established in 2009, for the purpose of soliciting academic submissions in ASL. At first, it was hard to find people willing to contribute their work. They were willing to submit research in English, but when asked to submit in ASL too, they claimed that they were not proficient enough in academic ASL to do so. We encouraged them to find people to work with them on it, but it was hard to find people willing to produce the academic works in ASL. There was no system, no established formula for it. We didn’t have a ready-made format for them to follow, and to build one proved too daunting and time-consuming a task. Also, who then would review the works? Our professional peers in the larger academic societies can’t read works in ASL, so they dismiss them, and when the works go unreviewed, their academic worth automatically diminishes. So, how can we require submission in ASL? It’s been a struggle. DSDJ is still operating, but we only receive occasional submissions. In fact, it’s on hold now, because of a lack of funding.

ASLized

The goal of ASLized is to publish academic works in ASL, and the journal’s efforts are laudable, but with which professional organization is it affiliated? As I said earlier, professional organizations are responsible for ensuring that the research published is conducted by scientists in the field whose work is reliable, valid, and will contribute to the scholarship of the field as a whole. They oversee this aspect of the academic society. These are among the several issues I see with academic ASL in professional journals today.

ASL in Academia

We’ve examined the realm of journals, and have found that, effectively, ASL is not represented. Now, what about institutions of higher education? Here I’m not referring to colleges that accept ASL as a foreign language. I’m addressing the fact that the language of academia in institutions across the country is English. Gallaudet University finally announced in 2007 that it was a bilingual institution. Remember that DSDJ began in 2009, two years later. Upon the announcement we should have gotten into the weeds to determine what it meant to be a bilingual institution. We grappled somewhat with definitions, and we had discussions, but nothing was formally established. Then, in January of 2016, President Cordano stated that our priority was to analyze and address what it means for us to be a bilingual institution. So, after several years of talking around the issue at Gallaudet, we’re now being pushed to do something.

Gallaudet University’s role

Gallaudet is developing a website for students that teaches them how to engage in academic ASL discourse. There are some drop-down menus which show examples of different types of ASL academic discourse, but there aren’t many to choose from, and it seems the website is still a work in progress. For instance, do we know what constitutes an ASL essay? No, because we don’t have a professional literary organization that defines and publishes these works. Instead, we draw from quality student work to inform our academic society. In reality, we should be drawing from the professional echelon to inform our students, not the other way around. This isn’t to say that we have no exemplars of academic work in ASL. Of course, we have a good number of scholars who have done outstanding research in ASL. Raychelle Harris, Laurene Simms, MJ Bienvenu, Maribel Garaté, and Trudy Suggs all are engaged in stellar ASL academic discourse, and we pull various features from their work to create standards and definitions, but we need broader representation in our field.

Efforts toward a definition

So, efforts are underway. We’re examining which ASL features are entailed in academic discourse, such as amount of fingerspelling and degree of grammatical and affective facial markers. We’re having fruitful discussions and attempting to build some basic guidelines.

Working together, accountable together

The different levels I’ve discussed here — institutions, organizations, and journals — need to work together to set standards before we can fully define what is involved and expected in academic ASL discourse. Each level needs to take accountability, as well — something that MJ  and others have talked about — and put in the thought required to establish best practices in their respective domains.

Why does ASL academic discourse matter to interpreters?

You are in the business of discourse, and most interpreters work in an academic setting. If your student is using conversational ASL, and you interpret that into academic English discourse, are you doing a service or a disservice? The professor needs to know that the student isn’t using academic discourse appropriately. You have to know your boundaries around this. It’s a complex issue, and I don’t have an easy answer, but I know that we must work together to grapple with it.

What can we do?

This afternoon we will continue the discussion, look at some examples of ASL text, and analyze the features and functions of ASL academic discourse. We’ll view video samples and draw comparisons between formal and informal discourse. I hope that this entices you to join the afternoon session.

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up” button (upper left-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”