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Deaf Interpreters in K-12 Settings? #YES CAN!

by Rosemary Wanis


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The use of Deaf Interpreters (DIs) has become increasingly common in the interpreting profession.
DIs work in collaboration with Certified Hearing Interpreters (CHIs) as most often DIs are native, or near-native, users of American Sign Language (ASL) using the language as their first language (L1) while most often CHIs are secondary users as ASL is their second language (L2).

Together, in an interdependent relationship, Deaf and Hearing Interpreters form Deaf-Hearing teams; working side by side to navigate the unique intricacies of language and cultural mediation in a wide variety of settings for a wide variety of audiences.

DIs are often overlooked as a resource in K-12 settings. With the demands in the educational setting, the information gathered from this research study reveals the roles, responsibilities, and benefits of DI-HI teams with a review of the implications for teaching future Deaf Interpreters enrolled in Training Programs throughout the US.

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify three roles taken on by Deaf Interpreters in the K-12 setting
  • Identify three benefits of having Deaf Interpreters in the K-12 setting
  • Identify three ways that Training Programs can prepare future interpreters (deaf and hearing both) to work in a collaborative teaming relationship in the educational setting

An Egyptian-American woman with short grey hair wearing a necklace and blue dress stands and smiles infant of some pink flowers Rosemary Wanis was born in Egypt to hearing parents.  She immigrated with her parents, to Monterey, CA.  At age 4 she was identified as being “hard of hearing” and started wearing hearing aids and receiving speech therapy. While taking a sign language class at CalBaptist she started working at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, and got her introduction to the Deaf-World.  After graduating with a BA Degree in Psychology, she went to Gallaudet University where she grew in her identity as a Deaf person and ASL fluency.  She obtained her Masters in Social Work and Masters in Administration & Supervision in 1998. After graduation she returned to California.  Rosemary became a Certified Deaf Interpreter in 2005 and in 2014 became nationally certified as a trainer. In 2018, she graduated from Fresno State with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She currently teaches Interpreting and Deaf Studies at Fresno State.