Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

Critical Literacy Initiatives Drive the Establishment of a ASL-Spanish-English interpreting course in New Mexico

by Amanda Lujan & Orlando Obeso

Interactive Workshop

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Historically, the signed language interpreting field has privileged a bilingual/bicultural model that requires interpreters to become proficient in ASL and English and navigate between Deaf culture and mainstream culture. However, in New Mexico, a state with a high percentage of Deaf Latinx/Hispanx/Chicanx who grew up in monolingual Spanish speaking homes, this model proves problematic as these populations are essentially denied access to the interpretation services needed to access mainstream society. Thus, the demand for ASL-Spanish-English interpreters is prevalent, which was the driving force behind a pilot course where an ASL-Spanish-English interpreting curriculum was proposed, developed, and taught.

Drawing on Janks’ (2000) notion of “dominant deconstructions,” Comber’s (2015) call to center social justice within curricular spaces, and Shor’s (1999) conceptualization of the intersections of language and history, we will share a proposal that was co-designed with trilingual students to offer specialized training in interpreting between ASL, Spanish, and English to increase access for both Spanish-dominant students and Latinx/Hispanx/Chicanx members of the Deaf community.

The course was approved by the University of New Mexico and was offered in the summer of 2018 and was developed using the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers’ (NCIEC) Interpreting in Spanish-Influenced Settings: A Curriculum Guide (2015). The six modules found in the curriculum guide served as the foundation for the content presented in the course: Foundational Knowledge, Language and Communication, Culture, Consumer Assessment, Interpreting Practice, and Professional Practice. The result of the process to integrate an ASL-Spanish-English course into the interpreting program was an inspiring testament to the power of the concept “of, by, for and with” when aligned with Ladson-Billings’ (2014) “culturally responsive framework” and applied to interpreter education.

Although the proposal created was for a one-time course, this participatory action research offers future implications. 1) It empowers marginalized native Spanish-speaking students to guide the process of change by having a voice. 2) It disrupts the power dynamics within academia to address the missing narratives of Spanish speaking students in interpreter education. 3) It helps evaluate how current interpreter education can increase support to L1 Spanish-speaking students to maximize their readiness for trilingual interpreting post-graduation. 4). It increases capacity and quality of ASL-Spanish-English interpreters, which also increases the access available to members of the Latinx/Hispanx/Chicanx Deaf community.

Álvarez, L. A., Annarino, P. G., Doucette, D., Hollrah, B., Narváez, A., & Treviño, R. O.
(2015). Interpreting in Spanish-Influenced Settings: A Curriculum Guide. Retrieved
from http://www.interpretereducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Trilingual-Curriculum-Guide-2015-English.pdf.
Comber, B. (2015). Critical literacy and social justice. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.
58(5), pp. 362-367.
Janks, H. (2000). Domination, Access, Diversity and Design: A synthesis for critical literacy
education. Educational Review 52:2, 175-186.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The dreamkeepers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishing Co.
Shor, I. (1999). What is critical literacy? Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism and Practice. 1(4).

Participants will be able to:

  • describe the ASL-Spanish-English interpreting demands in New Mexico.
  • identify the theoretical frameworks used to navigate paradigm shifts in academia.
  • name strategies and activities to support Spanish speaking students in the classroom.

A Chicana with long brown hair smiles at camera in front of green bushesAmanda D. Luján is a proud Chicana born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She earned her B.S. degree in Signed Language Interpreting from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 2005 and her M.S. degree in Interpreting Pedagogy from the University of North Florida in 2013. Currently, she is a third year Ph.D student at UNM in Educational Linguistics. She teaches undergraduate courses in the Signed Language Interpreting Program at UNM with pedagogical interests in trilingual cognitive processing and teaming/interpreting in Spanish-influenced settings. She continues to work as an interpreter practitioner utilizing her personal experiences to inform her teaching by bringing current issues, perspectives, and conflicts seen out in the field into her classroom. Her priority is to ensure that her students acknowledge, value, and are prepared to work effectively within a culturally and linguistically diverse Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community, while considering their own intersectionality and how that influences their work.

A Latinx man wearing a grey shirt with short black hair and glasses smiles at the cameraOrlando Obeso, a native New Mexican and first generation American, grew up in Roswell, New Mexico in a Spanish-speaking home. After graduating from Roswell High School, Orlando moved to Albuquerque, NM where he attended the University of New Mexico (UNM). Orlando graduated from UNM with a B.A. in Linguistics and B.S. in Sign Language Interpreting and is currently a graduate student at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in interpretation and translation in Spanish-English. Orlando has a passion for trilingual interpreting and trilingual interpreter education and hopes to improve services for Deaf and Spanish-speaking communities through the development of trilingual interpreters. He is a National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC) trainer and interim vice president of Mano a Mano Inc., the national trilingual interpreting organization in the United States.