Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

CLIMBing In: Equity, Inclusion and Representation in Legal Interpreter Education (Cultivating Legal Interpreters from Minority Backgrounds)

by Schawn Hardesty & Kelly Decker

Poster Session

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Competent legal interpreters are crucial to ensuring that speakers of a language other than English are linguistically present in their legal proceedings, and yet there is a shortage of ASL interpreters who hold a credential in the legal specialty or have specialized legal interpreting training. This shortage is especially critical among interpreters who are ‘of’ the community: interpreters of color and interpreters who are heritage language users (deaf and/ or deaf-parented). This poster session will present the results of a survey of stakeholders conducted by Project CLIMB (Cultivating Legal Interpreters from Minority Backgrounds) as a backdrop to understanding the interpreter’s vital role in the legal system and the backbone of a constructivist approach to legal interpreting education that underlies the project’s interactive, dialogic program content and iterative online training delivery. Based on the work of Lev Vygotsky, Project CLIMB participants learn through social interaction and dialogue as the content is scaffolded from one module to another throughout the comprehensive curriculum. Much of the work is led and carried out by members of the target communities—deaf, Coda, and people of color—and provides the opportunity for Project CLIMB participants to see representation of linguistic and cultural diversity in the project leadership, facilitation, and Communities of Learning while amplifying the voices of our target demographic and identifying counter-narratives throughout the project. Using a social justice framework, this poster presentation will examine how issues of equity, power and privilege can inform the future of legal interpreter training. Project CLIMB is funded by the US Department of Education- Rehabilitation Services Administration for the purpose of increasing the number and skill of interpreters working in legal settings.

Participants will:

  • Identify gaps and perceived barriers to linguistic equity in legal settings for deaf individuals.
  • Examine, compare, and contrast the reported findings of stakeholders to the experiences of workshop participants.
  • Examine, compare, and contrast the connections among and between the deaf community, heritage language signers, and people of color.
  • Apply frameworks and understanding of power, privilege, and social justice in the context of legal settings.

A woman with light brown skin and dark brown hair wearing a blue jacket smiles at camera in front of a grey backgroundSchawn Hardesty: Lifelong learning and social equity are at the heart of Schawn Hardesty’s work. She began learning ASL from family friends at the age of seven and has been a certified interpreter since 2002. Hardesty is one of a small number of interpreters in the nation to identify as a Person of Color who holds the RID Specialist Certificate: Legal. She has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Washington; a Certificate in ASL from Northeastern University (Boston); and an M.A. in Teaching ASL from the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) with research interests in the essential foundations of ASL interpreter education and collaboration with educators from heritage signing backgrounds. As Co-Director of Operations for Project CLIMB and adjunct faculty in UNC’s ASL and Interpreting Studies, Hardesty draws on her professional knowledge and lived experience to promote each learner’s opportunity for cura personalis, or development of the whole person.

A white woman with straight black shoulder -length hair smiles at camera - wearing a green sweater with flowered blouseKelly Decker, Certified Interpreter, Vermont. Kelly is highly invested in the development of the interpreting field. Since 2005, Kelly has been working throughout Region I in private practice. She is engaged in leadership at the local, regional and national level of the interpreting profession. She has coordinated and implemented countless community based projects and events primarily focusing on social justice and Deaf-parented interpreters. Her articles regarding ethics in teaming and how interpreters frame the task of interpreting can be found on Street Leverage. Kelly’s article, co-authored with Betty Colonomos, tilted Mastery in Mentoring is available via the RID VIEWS. As an Integrated Model of Interpreting (IMI) practitioner, Kelly is involved in the dedicated practice of reflective dialogue at the Etna Project.