Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

Centering Deaf Experiences and Prioritizing Collaboration

by Jeffrey Palmer & Tia Ivanko

Interactive Workshop

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As deaf people navigate postsecondary education and the workplace, interpreters can crucially impede or facilitate positive outcomes. A wealth of interpreting research has been dedicated to understanding best practices in various settings, process management, and factors that influence message accuracy. While message accuracy is important and measurable, without being tied to larger contextual factors that influence student outcomes, it falls short. Interpreters must be aware of individual, family, community, and systemic level factors that affect successful employment and educational outcomes and use this awareness to inform decision making and guide collaboration with stakeholders.

In this workshop, we will review the systemic issues that impact outcomes for deaf people, including education, training, employment, independent living, and community involvement. We draw upon research conducted by the National Deaf Center of Postsecondary Outcomes that employs a resiliency model, a model that focuses on the strengths of deaf individuals while acknowledging systemic barriers (Cawthon & Garberoglio, 2017). At the individual level, we will review the impact of additional stereotyped characteristics of deaf people (e.g., gender, race and ethnicity). Also on the individual level, we will outline the benefits of having opportunities to develop a deaf identity. At the family level, we will explore how financial resources impact deaf outcomes, and the various ways deaf people benefit from family and family-like networks. For the community level we will share research that demonstrates the importance of social capital and the value of community involvement and access to role models and mentors. At the systemic level, we will consider not only the factors that are important for workplace entry, but also factors that improve the quality of workplace experiences.

At first glance, it might appear that many of these factors are out of the interpreter’s control, however, without knowledge of what works and what does not in terms of successful deaf outcomes, interpreters may be inadvertent contributors to barriers that ultimately thwart favorable outcomes. A main goal of this presentation is to examine the best available practices for elevating deaf stakeholders in the workplace and at school and move from inadvertent contributors to conscientious collaborators.

After providing an overview of the issues, we will facilitate a dialogue that guides participants to explore the factors learned and consider ways to center deaf experiences and prioritize collaboration. Some dialogue questions we will examine are:

  • How do interpreter networks promote social capital that is beneficial to deaf stakeholders?
  • What is the interpreter’s role in being a role model and/or connecting deaf stakeholders to role models and mentors?
  • How do you train new interpreters to develop deaf-centered practices and contribute to collaborative decision making?
  • What can interpreter’s role in recognizing and addressing barriers in the workplace?
  • What is the interpreter’s role in capturing informal learning opportunities and incidental learning for deaf stakeholders?

Information learned in this workshop can be integrated into existing interpreter curricula as we continue to recognize individual, family, community, and systemic level factors and the role they play in guiding collaboration and decision making.

Cawthon, S. C., & Garberoglio, C. L. (2017). Shifting the Dialog, Shifting the Culture: Pathways to Successful Postsecondary Outcomes for Deaf Individuals. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify at least 3 systemic factors that serve as barriers to deaf outcomes at work and at school
  • Identify at least 3 systemic factors that facilitate deaf outcomes at work and at school
  • Recall interpreting situations where collaborative decisions were made and how they either deterred or supported positive outcomes
  • Analyze the factors explored and approaches for collaborative decision making in interpreter training and professional development

A white man with longer hair on top and short hair on the sides wearing glasses with a mustache and beard smiles at camera.Dr. Jeffrey Levi Palmer is a Researcher Associate for the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes. He is interested in not only the formative factors that result in the best language, literacy, and academic outcomes, but also which educational and social practices continue to elevate young deaf adults. His research examines understudied bilinguals, such as heritage bimodal bilinguals and visual-gestural unimodal bilinguals. For more than a decade he has worked as a professional sign language interpreter in a variety of specialized and technical settings. He is a Regional Representative for the Deaf-Parented Interpreters member section with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. He holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in Chinese language and culture from the Friends World College at Long Island University and obtained a master’s and doctoral degree in linguistics at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

A woman with light brown skin and purple-black shoulder length hair wearing a light purple scarf and black shirt smiles at cameraTia Ivanko is the Director of Operations for the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes. She works to promote conditions for optimal success for deaf students by providing information, gathering evidence based resources, and developing training, and providing consultation and support to inquiring stakeholders. Tia brings over 15 years of professional experience and a comprehensive range of expertise related to education and communication access for deaf individuals; She also has experience evaluating, implementing, and overseeing accommodations and access services. Tia is also a nationally certified interpreter, knowledgeable of technical, ethical, and professional practices within the interpreting field. She holds a master’s degree in Deaf Education from Western Maryland College and a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College.