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Volume 4(2) ~ November 2013

Creative Commons License - Attribution, Non-Commercial, No-DerivativesISSN # 2150-5772 – All views or conclusions are those of the authors of the articles and not necessarily those of the editorial staff or the publisher. The articles are the intellectual property of the authors and CIT. If you wish to use an article in your teaching or in another format, please credit the authors and the CIT International Journal of Interpreter Education.


Click below for an abstract of the articles included in this volume.


Community Interpreting Research


Volume 4 (2) ~ November 2012

ISSN # 2150-5772 – This article is the intellectual property of the authors and CIT. If you wish to use this article in your teaching or in another format, please credit the authors and the CIT International Journal of Interpreter Education.

Community Interpreting Research: A Critical Discussion of Training and Assessment

Jemina Napier, Editor 1
Macquarie University

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This is the second issue of Volume 4 of the International Journal of Interpreter Education—and the first time a second issue has been produced in the relatively short life and 4-year history of the journal. The move to two issues a year is in response to the increasing number of manuscripts being received, and the quality of the submissions, and we hope that you enjoy the opportunity to read a greater number of articles and commentaries on interpreter education.

The theme of this issue is community interpreting education research. In order to contextualize this issue, I would like to give an overview of community interpreting. We know that the act of mediating between languages and cultures is a complex activity. Historically, the academic sector has focused most of its research efforts on conference interpreting (Gile, 1994). Since the 1990s, however, practitioners, professional associations and scholars alike have recognized the value of community interpreting (Mikkelson, 1999; Pöchhacker, 1999) as being distinct from conference interpreting due to the bilateral nature of the work (Neubert, 1981). Community interpreting is typically defined as facilitating access to public services by mediating between service users and service providers who do not share the same language (Hale, 2007), primarily in social, legal, and health settings. Despite the fact that it is a rapidly growing field, there is variance in the nomenclature used, including public service interpreting (Corsellis, 2008; de Pedroy Ricoy, Perez, & Wilson, 2009), liaison interpreting (Erasmus, Mathibela, Hertog, & Antonissen, 1999; Gentile, Vasilikakos & Ozolins, 1996), and dialogue interpreting (Mason, 2001), but community interpreting is widely accepted as a generic term in the literature.

Opinions on the specific forms of community interpreting significantly vary among authors and countries, but the key component of community interpreting is the dialogic nature of the interaction that requires complex communication and role management (Valero-Garcés & Martin, 2008; Wadensjö, 1998). And we have lately witnessed a significant shift in many countries in the perception of community interpreters, from ad hoc, untrained, and unprofessional interpreters to skilled, qualified, and professional linguistic and cultural mediators of communication (Pöchhacker, 2008).

In contrast to spoken language interpreting, signed language interpreting emerged as a profession from within the community, rather than at conferences. Signed language interpreting practitioners were working with deaf people in medical, legal, and other dialogic settings (such as education) long before they started working at the conference level (Grbic & Pöllabauer, 2006); and signed language interpreting scholars (e.g., Metzger, 1999; Roy, 2000a; Turner, 2007) have taken the lead in debating the role of community interpreters by addressing the complexity of interpreter-mediated interaction, identifying the presence of an interpreter as a third party.2

The professionalization of community interpreting has thus led to greater discussions of the training, education, and assessment needs of community interpreting students as compared to conference interpreting students, for spoken languages and signed languages (see, e.g., Downing & Tillery, 1992; Roy, 2000b; Sawyer, 2004). Different countries have a range of systems for the education, training, and accreditation of community interpreters. Training ranges from ad hoc intensive short courses to established formal university programs; and accreditation is obtained through annual testing programs or by qualification on completion of a training program. Most countries start out with short courses in order to meet an immediate need and provide basic training. In some countries, (sometimes many) years of government lobbying, fundraising, and perseverance have led to the establishment of formal programs, along with infrastructure for professional regulation, monitoring, and standards.

Thus the availability of such training has led to a call for greater connections between research and pedagogy (Angelelli & Jacobsen, 2009), and we have seen a growth in the literature in this regard—notably in this journal.

The Research Section of this volume of IJIE includes four excellent articles from respected community interpreting researchers about studies of community interpreting training and assessment. Three of the articles sharing cutting-edge scholarship and findings on community interpreting were first presented at Critical Link 6: Interpreting in the Community at Aston University in Birmingham, England, in July 2010. The Critical Link conferences were initiated in 1995 by Critical Link International, which originated in Canada as the International Council for the Development of Community Interpreting (see http://criticallink.org/). After the initial conference in 1995, conferences have been held every three years, hosted by a university in collaboration and consultation with Critical Link International. Each conference features papers and discussions that focus on community interpreting across spoken and signed languages; typically, a collection of papers from each conference is published by John Benjamins in a book of proceedings.

Previous Critical Link volumes have featured papers on community interpreter education, training, and assessment, including, for example, discussions of orientation workshops for interpreters of all languages (Mikkelson & Mintz, 1997), distance education (Carr & Steyn, 2000), assessment tools (Fowler, 2007; Lee, 2009; Roberts, 2000), training for interpreters from refugee backgrounds (Straker & Watts, 2003), interpreter certification (Beltran Avery, 2003), internship programs (Johnston, 2007), and quality in health care interpreter training (Merlini & Favaron, 2009).

In advance of the forthcoming publication of the 2010 conference proceedings, this issue of IJIE features three papers from the training stream of Critical Link 6. First, Carmen Valero-Garcés and Denis Socarrás-Estrada from Spain discuss public service interpreter training assessment and evaluation; they provide an overview of tests they have used and an evaluation of the efficacy of their approach. Next, Kristina Gustafsson, Eva Norström, and Ingrid Fioretos provide details of a community interpreter training program in Sweden. Finally, Sedat Mulayim evaluates different modes used in community interpreter testing in Australia.

The fourth contribution in the Research section is by signed language interpreting scholars who did not present at Critical Link 6, but their discussion complements the theme of this issue. Len Roberson, Debra Russell, and Risa Shaw from the United States and Canada provide a case for the training of signed language interpreters for legal specialization, which could also be considered and applied to spoken language interpreters, and is a large component of community interpreting practice.

Risa Shaw appears again in our Commentary section, as a coauthor with Mary Thumann. In their commentary, Shaw and Thumann discuss how they developed guidelines for interpreting students to submit academic papers in American Sign Language. These guidelines have been long awaited in the signed language sector; many educators have grappled with how to encourage their students to submit assignments in the signed language of their working language pair, in order to encourage the development of literacy in (what is often) students’ second language. The guidelines provide an alternative to the APA referencing style often required by universities for academic papers in English, but they can be adapted for signed language interpreter educators in any country.

Finally, the Open Forum section includes a review by Debra Russell of the latest book in the interpreter education series from Gallaudet University Press, which focuses on another aspect of community interpreting: health care interpreting and health care interpreting education. Debra’s insights provide food for thought for spoken and signed language health care interpreter educators alike.

The publication of IJIE Volume 4(2) coincides with the convention of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers in Charlotte, North Carolina, in October 2012. A selection of papers from that conference will be featured in IJIE Volume 5(2), due in November 2013.

Although we see evidence of increased critical discussion and examination of community interpreting practice, education, training, and assessment through the sharing of research studies, the reflective practice of interpreter educators goes a long way toward supporting that critical discussion. Research is invaluable, but reflection on effective pedagogy provides a foundation for ongoing debate.

Rather than end my editorial with a quote, for this issue I would like to sum up by outlining six principles for reflective interpreter educators to follow, as suggested by Ken Bain (2004) in his identification of what the best teachers in adult education do (based on longitudinal research and observation of effective teachers), regardless of discipline. Adherence to these principles will not only allow us to engage in best practice pedagogy and reflection, but also empower our interpreting students to become critical and reflective practitioners.

  1. Know your subject extremely well and demonstrate an intuitive understanding of human learning: “Learning has little meaning unless it produces a sustained and substantial influence on the way people think, act and feel” (Bain, 2004, p.17).
  2. Treat teaching as a serious intellectual endeavor that is intellectually demanding.
  3. Expect more from students and favor learning objectives that embody the kind of thinking and acting expected for life.
  4. Create a “natural critical learning environment,” using various methods addressing intriguing problems and authentic tasks.
  5. Trust that students want to learn and treat students with respect.
  6. Systematically evaluate your teaching efforts and impact on student learning.


Angelelli, C., & Jacobsen, H. (2009). Inroduction: Testing and assessment in translation and interpreting studies: A call for dialogue between research and practice. In C. Angelelli & H. Jacobsen (Eds.), Testing and assessment in translation and interpreting studies (pp. 1–12). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
Beltran Avery, M. (2003). Creating a high standard, inclusive and authentic certification process. In L. Brunette, G. Bastin, I. Hemlin, & H. Clarke (Eds.), The Critical Link 3 (pp. 99–112). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Carr, S., & Steyn, D. (2000). Distance education training for interpreters: An insurmountable oxymoron. In R. Roberts, S. Carr, D. Abraham, & A. Dufour (Eds.), The Critical Link 2: Interpreters in the community (pp. 83–88). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Corsellis, Ann. 2008. Public service interpreting: The first step. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
de Pedro Ricoy, R., Perez, I., & Wilson, C. (Eds.). (2009). Interpreting and translating in public service settings: Policy, practice, pedagogy. Manchester, UK: St Jerome.
Downing, B., & Tillery, K. H. (1992). Professional training for community interpreters: A report on models of interpreter training and the value of training. Unpublished research report. University of Minnesota.
Erasmus, M., Mathibela, L., Hertog, E., & Antonissen. H. (Eds.). (1999). Liaison interpreting in the community. Hatfield, Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik Publishers.
Fowler, Y. (2007). Formative assessment: Using peer and self-assessment in interpreter training. In C. Wadensjö, B. E. Dimitrova, & A. L. Nilsson (Eds.), The Critical Link 4 (pp. 253–262). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Gentile, A., Ozolins, U., & Vasilakakos, M. (1996). Liaison interpreting: A handbook. Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Press.
Gile, D. (1994). Opening up in interpretation studies. In M. Snell-Hornby, F. Pöchhacker, & K. Kaindl (Eds.),  Translation studies: An interdiscipline (pp.149–158). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Grbic, N., & Pöllabauer, S. (2006). Community interpreting: Signed or spoken? Types, modes, and methods. Linguistica Antverpiensia, 5, 247–261.
Hale, S. (2007). Community interpreting. New York, NY: Macmillan.
Hale, S. (2011). Public service interpreting. In K. Windle & K. Malmkjaer (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of translation studies (pp. 343–356). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Johnston, S. (2007). Interpreter internship program: Forging employer-community partnerships. In C. Wadensjö, B. E. Dimitrova, & A. L. Nilsson (Eds.), The Critical Link 4 (pp. 263–272). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Lee, J. (2009). Toward a more reliable assessment of interpreting performance. In S. Hale, U. Ozolins, & L. Stern (Eds.), The Critical Link 5: Quality in interpreting: A shared responsibility (pp. 171186). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Leeson, L. (2011). Signed language interpreting. In M. Baker & G. Saldanha (Eds.), The Routledge encyclopedia of translation studies (2nd ed., pp. 274–279). London, England: Routledge.
Mason, I. (Ed.). (2001). Triadic exchanges: Studies in dialogue interpreting. Manchester, UK: St. Jerome.
Merlini, R., & Favaron, R. (2009). Quality in healthcare interpreter training: Working with norms through recorded interaction. In S. Hale, U. Ozolins, & L. Stern (Eds.), The Critical Link 5: Quality in interpreting: A shared responsibility (pp. 187–200). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Metzger, M. (1999). Sign language interpreting: Deconstructing the myth of neutrality. Washington, DC, USA: Gallaudet University Press.
Mikkelson, H. (1999). The professionalisation of community interpreting. Journal of Interpretation, 119–133.
Mikkelson, H., & Mintz, H. (1997). Orientation workshops for interpreters of all languages: How to strike a balance between the ideal world and reality. In S. Carr, R. Roberts, A. Dufour, & D. Steyn (Eds.), The Critical Link: Interpreters in the community (pp. 55–64). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Napier, J. (Ed.). (2009). International perspectives on sign language interpreter education. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Napier, J. (2011). Signed language interpreting. In K. Windle & K. Malmkjaer (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of translation studies (pp. 357–378). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Neubert, A. (1981). Translation, interpreting and text linguistics. Studia Linguistica: A Journal of General Linguistics, 35(1/2), 130–145.
Pöchhacker, F. (1999). “Getting organized”: The evolution of community interpreting. Interpreting, 4(1), 125–140.
Pöchhacker, F. (2008). Interpreting as mediation. In C. Valero-Garcés & A. Martin (Eds.), Crossing borders in community interpreting: Definitions and dilemmas (pp. 9–26). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Roberts, R. (2000). Interpreter assessment tools for different settings. In R. Roberts, S. Carr, D. Abraham, & A. Dufour (Eds.), The Critical Link 2: Interpreters in the community (pp. 89–102). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Roy, C. (2000a). Interpreting as a discourse process. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Roy, C. (Ed.). (2000b). Innovative practices for teaching sign language interpreters. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Sawyer, D. (2004). Fundamentals of interpreter education. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Straker, J., & Watts, H. (2003). Fit for purpose? Training for students from refugee backgrounds. In L. Brunette, G. Bastin, I. Hemlin, & H. Clarke (Eds.), The Critical Link 3 (pp. 163–176). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Turner, G. H. (2007). Professionalisation of interpreting within the community: Refining the model. In C. Wadensjö, B. Englund Dimitrova, & A. L. Nilsson (Eds.), The Critical Link 4: Professionalisation of interpreting in the community (pp.181–192). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Valero-Garcés, C., & Martin, A. (Eds.). (2008). Crossing borders in community interpreting: Definitions and dilemmas. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Wadensjö, C. (1998). Interpreting as interaction. London, England: Longman.
Wadensjö, C. (2011). Community interpreting. In M. Baker & G. Saldanha (Eds.), The Routledge encyclopedia of translation studies (2nd ed., pp. 43–48). London, England: Routledge.

1 Correspondence to: CITjournaleditor@gmail.com

2 See Wadensjö’s (2011) and Leeson’s (2011) contributions in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, or Hale’s (2011) and Napier’s (2011) similar chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies, for detailed overviews of the professionalization and status of community/public service interpreting and the relationship to signed language interpreting.

3 See Napier (2009), which features an overview of interpreter education in a range of countries. Although the book focuses on signed language interpreter education, each chapter contextualizes the development of interpreter training within the broader translation and interpreting sector, and documents the current status of training, education, and accreditation in each country.

Research Articles

Assessment and Evaluation in Labs for Public Services Interpreting Training

Assessment and Evaluation in Labs for Public Services Interpreting Training

Carmen Valero-Garcés1
University of Alcalá
Denis Socarrás-Estrada
University of Alcalá


This study reports on the development and application of two bilingual interpreting tests given to master’s students during three academic years (2009–2012) at the University of Alcalá, Madrid, Spain.  Its main objective is to compare trainees’ test performance at two different points in time.  The study analyzes the degree of accuracy and the speed of response, considering the variables of mother tongue, gender, age, and undergraduate education. Our customized tests drew upon two aptitude tests developed by Pöchhacker (2009) and Russo (2009) and combine oral-aural exercises with tasks requiring listening skills, expressional fluency, and public-service-setting terminology. The tests are administered in a 24-seat multimedia lab, which allows recording students’ performance for further evaluation. The results show the validity of the tests (Baker, 1989) to measure the students’ aptitudes before and after training, and thus the tests prove to be useful tools to predict professional performance as well.

Key Words: interpreting education, competences, aptitude test, public service, assessment, evaluation

Correspondence to: carmen.valero@uah.es 

Community Interpreter Training in Spoken Languages in Sweden

Community Interpreter Training in Spoken Languages in Sweden

Kristina Gustafsson
Halmstad University
Eva Norström
Lund University
Ingrid Fioretos
Malmö University


The aim of this article is to analyze the community interpreter training program in Sweden and, based on the results of two research projects, describe structural conditions and shortcomings. The authors discuss Sweden’s laws and regulations, the changing demand for interpreting service in society, the open access ideology within adult education associations, and the limitation of economic resources for fulfilling the demand for trained interpreters. Interpreter training in Sweden is built on public-service needs in the areas of social insurance, the labor market, health care, and court interpreting. It is focused on factual knowledge and terminology and devotes little time for developing aspects of ethical rules, the role of the interpreter, and technical issues. In order to make progress possible it is important to use existing research and theory to develop didactics for community interpreting training.

Key Words: interpreter training programs, community interpreting, ethics, technique, didactics, theory

Correspondence to: Kristina.Gustafsson@hh.se

A Study of Interpreting Accreditation Testing Formats in Australia

A Study of Interpreting Accreditation Testing Formats in Australia

Sedat Mulayim
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia


Advanced and affordable video conferencing technology has led to an increase in remote interpreting services via video, which has become a significant alternative to telephone and face-to-face interpreting. In keeping with this development, training providers are now incorporating video conference interpreting in their training. Video and audio resources are also increasingly being used as e-learning resources in online learning tools such as Blackboard and other university student learning portals. This has implications for the testing of interpreting skills, and the RMIT University Translating and Interpreting Program in Melbourne, Australia has started phasing in video assessment in examination and accreditation tests. In Australia, three test modes are commonly used: audio, video, and live-simulated tests. This article reports on a small-scale study that compared the three testing modes in terms of their potential impact on student examination results and also in terms of testing efficiency for training providers. Due to a lack of relevant research on the topic in the interpreting discipline, the discussion draws on relevant studies in diverse fields such as applied psychology, behavioral science, and musical performance. This study has implications for interpreter training strategies, for designing and administering interpreter assessment tests, and for resourcing in training programs.

Key Words: video interpreting test, audio interpreting test, interpreting skills, testing modes, NAATI accreditation test, Chinese (Mandarin)

Correspondence to: sedat.mulayim@rmit.edu.au

A Case for Training Signed Language Interpreters for Legal Specialization

A Case for Training Signed Language Interpreters for Legal Specialization

Len Roberson
University of North Florida
Debra Russell
University of Alberta
Risa Shaw
Gallaudet University


Interpreting in legal settings has become a specialized area of practice that requires specific training and ongoing professional development. This study examined the training and professional development needs of ASL–English interpreters in North America. The 1,995 participants in an online survey included interpreters who provide services in legal settings and those who do not. The data suggest that interpreters desire certificate programs that are delivered in multiple formats, including face-to-face intensive experiences, online distance learning, and regional and local mentoring experiences. The training content areas participants wanted most include specialized interactions; legal discourse across a range of settings including police, domestic violence, depositions, and jury trials; interpreting techniques when working in deaf/hearing teams, using consecutive interpreting and error identification and correction; and ethics and decision making. All of the data analyzed offer insight into how best to design learning events that are meaningful for interpreters who want to work with legal discourse and interactions in a variety of settings, including courtrooms. Recommendations for educational institutions, professional organizations, and individual practitioners follow from the data.

Key Words: legal interpreting, signed language interpreting, team interpreting, deaf interpreting, training content, sequence of courses, curriculum design, interpreter educators

Correspondence to: len.roberson@unf.edu


In Pursuit of Meaningful Dialogue: Using Protocols to Improve Discussion in Online and Face-to-Face Courses

In Pursuit of Meaningful Dialogue: Using Protocols to Improve Discussion in Online and Face-to-Face Courses

Suzanne Ehrlich 1, Funda Ergulec 2, Janet Mannheimer Zydney 1, and Lauren Angelone 1
University of Cincinnati1, Indiana University2


The purpose of our article is to discuss the use of a discussion strategy called protocols, which can be used in both online and face-to-face environments. Protocols provide a structured way of having a discussion that empowers all students to contribute their ideas in a safe environment by providing specific rules and clear roles for guiding the discussion. First, we provide a brief background on protocols and our experience with using protocols within an online course titled Orientation to Deafness. We then provide readers with a variety of example protocols that can be used in both face-to-face and online environments. We also provide example ground rules, which provide instructors with the necessary information to implement these protocols. The article concludes with the implications of using these protocols within the field of signed and spoken language interpreting.

Key Words: teaching, online instruction, discussion, protocols, interpreting

Correspondence to: Suzanne.Ehrlich@uc.edu

Teaching Mental Health Discourse

Teaching Mental Health Discourse

Mary Thumann and Kendra Smith
Gallaudet University


In this article we present an approach to teaching a course on Interpreting Mental Health Discourse, based on our experiences in developing and teaching this course at Gallaudet University. We report on how faculty from two departments, Interpreting and Counseling, worked together with the goal of providing students in the Interpreting program with knowledge and skill-building opportunities for interpreting mental health discourse. We include examples from the course content and format, and suggestions for using available resources, as well as a discussion of what worked well and what did not. The article is a valuable resource for interpreter educators who are considering developing a similar course, and also for interpreters who are interested in improving their understanding of interpreting mental health discourse.

Key Words: interpreting, mental health discourse, collaboration in interpreter education

Correspondence to: Mary.Thumann@gallaudet.edu

Student Work Section

Research Studies in Interpretation from Gallaudet University Doctoral Students

Research Studies in Interpretation from Gallaudet University Doctoral Students

Cynthia Roy and students
Gallaudet University


The following three studies were presented at the Conference of Interpreter Trainers Conference in October 2012. The studies were undertaken as predissertation work by students in the first cohort of the doctoral program in the Department of Interpretation at Gallaudet University. In the first study, Erica Alley addresses the population of students of American Sign Language–English interpretation in the United States who are employed in the video relay service (VRS) industry while pursuing their degree. It is proposed that VRS is changing from a specialization to an introduction to the field of interpreting and that students may find comfort in the highly structured environment of VRS, which diminishes the need for autonomous decision making. In the second study, Danielle Hunt explores how two signed language interpreters currently working in the field experience and understand what it means to be an interpreter. As phenomenological study, she strives to identify the essence of interpreting through the eyes of these interpreters. This essence is what should be passed on to future generations of interpreters through educational programs. The interpreters are profiled for a deeper understanding of how they make meaning of their work, what their work has entailed, and what outside forces have impacted their work. In the third study, Roberto Santiago examines how research into the cognitive function of co-speech gesture may have practical applications to the teaching of interpreting. The study examines the gesture rate of an interpreter compared to rates found in similar bilinguals in previously published research.

Key Words: ASL–English interpreting research, phenomenology, video relay service, co-speech gesture

Correspondence to: cynthia.roy@gallaudet.edu 

Open Forum

Book Review: Service Learning in Interpreter Education


Volume 5 (2) ~ November 2013

ISSN # 2150-5772 – This article is the intellectual property of the authors and CIT. If you wish to use this article in your teaching or in another format, please credit the authors and the CIT International Journal of Interpreter Education.

Book Review
Service Learning in Interpreter Education: Strategies for Extending Student Involvement in the Deaf Community

Eileen Forestal
Union County College

Debra Russell
University of Alberta

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Shaw, S. (2013). Service learning in interpreter education: Strategies for extending student involvement in the Deaf community. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. ISBN: 978-1-56368-555-2 (hardcover), ISBN: 978-1-56368-556-9 (e-book).

As a deaf person who has been an interpreter educator and coordinator of an interpreter education program for many years (Forestal), I read Service Learning in Interpreter Education as both reaffirming our program’s philosophy of students engaging in community service and redefining service learning. This book has a fresh and reviving approach, as it is student focused as well as Deaf community focused. I have observed for quite some time that many students are losing connection with the Deaf community; they do not have a meaningful depth of exposure to the infrastructure of the Deaf community or Deaf culture, let alone exposure to sign language and its discourse structure. While reading the book, I was struck by the key words: “re-centering” (p. 155), “re-enfranchising” (p. 29), “partnerships” (p, 16), “equal partners” (p. 139), collaboration, and many similar concepts emphasized throughout the book. Service learning, as portrayed in the book, is “community-based learning” (p. 4): It promotes a view students and the Deaf community learning together and working toward reciprocity, a critical aspect of the Deaf community (Holcomb, 2012), and considering each other as equal partners—rather than a view of the Deaf community as dependent, with studentsvolunteering a one-way street.

The central and crucial concept of this book is outlined in Chapter 8, “The Deaf Community Perspective: Reciprocity and Collaboration.”  Shaw addresses the widening gap between interpreter education programs and the Deaf community and offers ideas about how to make programs more inclusive for community-based learning. This chapter was like a breath of fresh air; one does not often read about a community’s perspective—and particularly not about the Deaf community—that is the target of service learning, other than participatory-action research. Mertens & McLaughlin (2004) underscored incorporating the perspectives of the community under study as vital role to qualitative research, including the views and experiences of a specific population. Shaw interviewed members of the Deaf community about their perceptions of the impact that various service learning programs had on them and on their community. The interviews reflect the participants’ excitement and the value they saw in such programs: The Deaf members and organizations observed that students were developing Deaf-centric cultural values, and they were more than willing to continue supporting these programs. Shaw also integrates the students’ perspectives, gained through interviews, into the following chapter as well. These perspectives are critical components of a transformative paradigm of service learning, in which “knowledge [and understanding] is influenced by human interests [as it] reflects the power and social relationships within society [and] that an important purpose of knowledge construction is to help people improve society” (Mertens & McLaughlin, 2004, p. 3).

In these two chapters, Shaw reinforces the key themes, mentioned earlier, that arise throughout the book, validating the worthiness of interpreter education programs’ expanding or implementing a service learning program. Shaw also informs readers that service learning is new to the Deaf community. I found this fact striking; it underscores how important it is for interpreter education programs (IEPs) to revisit the Deaf community and to, for example, hold a forum involving representatives of the IEP and members of local and state organizations to discuss the rationale, approaches, and strategies of a service-learning program.  The forum could include discussions of how the Deaf community could support the IEP’s students, with the Deaf community being on the receiving end of reciprocity. Such a forum would be also beneficial in eliciting input and ideas from the leaders and members of the Deaf community, effectively making a “re-entry” into IEPs, because, as Shaw indicates, many IEPs seem to have moved away or grown apart from the Deaf community.
As a non-deaf interpreter educator (Russell), I found similar gems in this book, beginning with the content that situates the concept of service learning within a framework of social capital and spatial theory. The discussions of power dynamics and privilege, positioning, shared space, boundaries, and social capital challenge educators to purposefully examine the roots of their service learning approaches to ensure that these concepts serve as the foundation of all decisions that follow. Shaw then stresses in the next chapter that “…service learning must complement existing curriculum rather than stand out as an afterthought” (p. 35).  There are examples of other professions that are grappling with embedding service learning into their curricula, and these are contrasted with suggested objectives for interpreter education programs.

The practical nature of Chapter 3, “Implementing Service Learning,” is a gift to any educator because it offers sample objectives, structured activities, and sequences for assignments. Shaw walks the reader through the elements required for effective pedagogy, while building a case for partnerships that are sustainable and positive for Deaf communities and programs, which is contrasted well with the material on dealing with student engagement.  Shaw draws readers’ attention to multiple intelligences, portrayed in the original work of Gardner (1983) and Kolb (1984) in order to adapt these intelligences to apply to interpreting.  She contrasts a fixed-versus-growth mind-set, and this material could be easily incorporated into pre- and postlearning survey tools, leading to program evidence upon which to assess the impact of service learning on student dispositional traits and mind-sets.

Both reviewers noted that Shaw includes assessment and evaluation of the service learning experience as key elements of the service learning program framework, providing useful arguments for convincing administrative levels and curriculum committees of the importance of service learning. In addition, Shaw describes how academic reflection, an indispensable by-product of service learning,  can be taught, so that students become interpreter practitioners, who are “reflective in action” (Schön, 1983, p. 119). Shaw explores what constitutes reflection and how students can develop reflective skills and become critical thinkers. She includes excerpts of students’ journals, providing substantive evidence to support the value of service learning to student learning. Not only has service learning made an impact on students, faculty members, IEPs that offer service learning opportunities, and Deaf community members, its benefits extend exponentially as the students become “evolved” members of the Deaf community as allies.

We appreciate how Shaw has woven Deaf community perspectives and experiences with local IEPs as a foundation for working with the students, resulting in a book that is well organized.  Shaw builds a coherent argument for service learning, providing the premises and theories of service learning, before moving on to approaches for implementation of a course to offer service learning, and strategies to imbed service learning in an IEP. She has framed the foundation of her book on current research and praxis outside of interpreter education and the Deaf community, providing a global view of service learning. Most chapters end with recommended readings; both reviewers have taken advantage of these and found them very useful.

We both highly recommend Service Learning in Interpreter Education: Strategies for Extending Student Involvement in the Deaf Community for all interpreter education programs, including online programs.This text is also an excellent source for interpreter organizations to design a community service program to connect with the Deaf community in meaningful ways.  It also can be a guide for planning for continuing education units (CEUs) for interpreter organization members to ensure that all interpreters, seasoned or novice, continue to develop their connections with the Deaf community. Because interpreter educators continually seek to bridge research and practice in linguistically and culturally sensitive ways, the production of a summary of several of the chapters within this book in American Sign Language would make a positive contribution. We look forward to seeing in what direction Sherry Shaw, a model of exceptional scholarship and critical thinking, takes our field next.
Finally, we note that this text also has valuable material for spoken language interpreter education programs, and translation studies.  Students can gain so much from being actively engaged in the linguistic communities in which they will work, regardless of whether the students will become translators, community based interpreters or conference interpreters. Shaw’s work will resonate across our shared approaches to educating interpreters and translators.


Gardner, H. (1983), Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York City, NY, USA: Basic Books, Inc.
Holcomb, T. K. (2012). Introduction to American Deaf culture. New York City, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Kolb, D.A. (1984): Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA: Prentice Hall.
Mertens, D. M., & McLaughlin, J.(2004). Research and evaluation methods in special education. Thousand Oaks, CA, USA: Corwin Press.
Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York City, NY, USA: Basic Books, Inc.

Complete Version of the Journal

The listing below has the complete articles as well as an opportunity to download a PDF version of each article or the complete journal.