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Exploring Coping Strategies in Interpreted Situations that Conflict with Moral and/or Religious Beliefs

by Tiffani Johnson & Jessica Bentley-Sassaman

Poster Session

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One of the more recent developments within the field of American Sign Language interpreting has been an increased acknowledgement of the interpreter as a person whose psychology affects and is affected by the interpretation event. This has led to a greater focus on identifying and understanding the specific demands that may arise during interpreting situations and the potential ways in which those demands impact the interpreter’s ability to render quality services. Although current interpreter education does seek to promote effective coping strategies, much research has yet to be conducted regarding situation-specific controls that interpreters can employ when faced with certain demands.

Using Dean and Pollard’s (2013) Demand-Control Schema as a framework, Bloomsburg University student Tiffani A. Johnson is conducting an undergraduate research study guided by Bloomsburg ITP coordinator Dr. Jessica Bentley-Sassaman to investigate a specific type of intrapersonal demand—that which occurs when the nature of an assignment conflicts with the interpreter’s personal values and/or beliefs—and how ASL interpreters respond to situations where this demand is present. This study is currently in progress, and the researchers will be able to report their findings at the CIT conference.

This study is set up in two phases, a survey and focus groups. The survey will be sent out within the month. Focus group discussions will be conducted in February and the results of this small scale study will be presented at the conference. Patterns and recurring themes will be analyzed for coping strategies and techniques on how interpreters deal with situations that conflict with moral or religious beliefs. These strategies can be used in ITP to help prepare students on how to deal with situations where their moral and/or religious beliefs are in conflict with the content interpreted. The strategies can also be taught in continuing education courses to inform best practices for current interpreters.

Participants will:

  • Identify coping strategies that can be applied to interpreting situations where there are moral and/or religious belief conflicts
  • Formulate ways in which these findings can be applied within interpreter education programs to teach students how to cope with such situations
  • Formulate ways in which these findings can be applied within continuing education settings to help interpreters cope more effectively with such situations

A white woman with wavy brown hair and glasses sits outside in front of a moss covered rock wearing a blue dress and smiles at cameraTiffani Johnson is a junior American Sign Language/English Interpreting major at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a member of the Bloomsburg University Honors College, the Presidential Leadership Program, and the Board of Governors Program. Additionally, she is an active member of BU’s on-campus ASL clubs, Signify and the BU Interpreter Club, and the ASL performance group IMAGE. For her Honors undergraduate capstone project, Tiffani is working with Dr. Jessica Bentley-Sassaman to conduct an independent study on coping strategies employed by ASL interpreters in settings that conflict with the interpreter’s moral and/or religious beliefs.

A white woman with straight brown hair going to her shoulders smiles at camera wearing a wire-rimmed earrings in the shape of large leaves and a necklaceJessica Bentley-Sassaman has been working in the field of interpreting since 2001 after obtaining a B.S. in Interpreting for the Deaf from Bloomsburg University. She then attended Gallaudet earning her M.A. degree in Linguistics in 2006. She completed her Doctoral Degree in Education in January 2011. She has her CI & CT, SC:L, and Ed: K-12. Jessica currently works at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania as an Associate Professor and is the Program Coordinator. When Jessica is not teaching she still works as a freelance interpreter primarily in legal, governmental, and medical settings in Pennsylvania. She has conducted research on mentoring, legal interpreting, teamwork between Deaf and Hearing Interpreting Teams, and Practicum experiences of students.