Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

Cincinnati’s African American/Black Interpreter Collaborative

by Amber Burley Munnerlyn & Elizabeth Jean-Baptiste

Interactive Workshop

August 13 | 1:30-3:00 pm | Room

Return to 2020 Conference Schedule

West-Oyedele’s (2015) Persistence of African-American/Black Signed Language Interpreters in the United States: The Importance of Culture and Capital closes with a call to action for the field of signed language interpreting to address the disparities of African American/Black (AA/Black) interpreters in the profession. In direct response, faculty at the University of Cincinnati conducted a Practitioner Action Research project. Stakeholders, including six AA/Black RID certified interpreters, 25 AA/Black pre-certified interpreters, Deaf AA/Black community members, interpreter educators, interpreter referral agencies, and employers of interpreting services, engaged in a process of identifying the problem, reviewing the literature, collecting and analyzing data, designing the project, evaluating its impact, and disseminating results. They will share the process, progress, and products of their work together. As a potential model for other communities of practice, specific attention will be given to success indicators and challenges in implementation.

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify defining characteristics of the interpreting profession in the context of Greater Cincinnati, including statistics demonstrating the disparity of AA/Black interpreters and population census data.
  • Define terms “Practitioner Action Research” and “Community of Practice”, including the principles that guide this type of work.
  • Locate key resources utilized throughout this PAR project, including literature, statistics, activities, evaluation, and dissemination of information.
  • Articulate the process of the project from inception to current status, including projections to the future.
  • View products as a result of this project.
  • Describe the successes and challenges of implementing this Practitioner Action Research project in Greater Cincinnati.
  • Chart action steps for replicating this work in their own communities of practice.
  • Problem solve in small group discussion.

A black woman with wavy long dark brown hair smiles at camera wearing pink shirt and colorful scarfAmber Burley Munnerlyn, Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, is a RID Certified Interpreter since 2008. Amber worked 10 years in VRS, 5 of which were in management. During her time in management she was one lead for a project focusing on Black Interpreters in VRS. The project focused on planning workshops, and providing support for AA/Black interpreters. Additionally the project was responsible to design and present trainings. It also engaged in consultation to fellow employees and managers on issues specific to AA/Black Interpreters in VRS. Amber serves on the RID CEO search committee, RID Scholarship and Awards Committee and RID Diversity Council.

Amber has a dual Bachelor’s degree in Sign Language Interpreting and ASL/Deaf Studies from Maryville College in Maryville, Tn. She also earned a dual Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Currently as Asst Professor Amber is teaching ASL and Deaf Theory and Foundation courses. She is partnering with Elizabeth Jean-Baptiste in her doctoral research focused on community based action in the AA/Black Interpreter field in Cincinnati.

A white woman with short blond hair smiles at camera wearing a grey t-shirt covered by a magenta cardigan in front of a light purple backgroundElizabeth Jean-Baptiste, Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati, is a RID Certified interpreter since 2001 and interpreter educator since 2005. She has more than ten years of overseas experience, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya (2006-2008) and Zambia (2008-2009), professor at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, Fellow with Discovering Deaf Worlds in the Philippines, and most recently as a consultant to the Kenyan National Association of the Deaf and Kenyan Signed Language Interpreter’s Association.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sign Language Interpreting and Master’s degree in Adult Education and Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Education and Community-Based Action Research at the University of Cincinnati. Her research areas of interest include collaborative change research, evaluation and design, critical pedagogies, and relational teaching and learning. Other academic pursuits focus on teaching critical thinking skills, service learning, interdisciplinary curriculum for improved interpreter education, discourse analysis, ethical decision-making, closing the school-to-work gap, cross-training of spoken and signed language interpreters, and international experiences as a key element to interpreter education.