Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

Teaching Translation: A Community Collaborative

by Jeanette Nicholson & Donna Flanders


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Translation theory has been identified by many scholars as the necessary pillar in a strong foundation for students before acquiring consecutive and simultaneous interpreting skills. Research has also found that translation skills help students develop better problem-solving abilities while actively interpreting (Delisle, 1980, 1981; Gémar, 1983; Gile, 1995; Juhel, 1985; Larose, 1985; Newmark, 1988; Larson, 1991; Vinay, 1991; Viaggio, 1994; Friedberg, 1997; Li, 2019). The question of the inclusion of translation courses within a program design is rhetorical in nature. The better question is this: In what ways could a translation course respond to a need in the Deaf community while building collaboration with the greater community? Could interpreter programs do more to be inclusive of the Deaf community when building content and course deliverables?

It is widely accepted that interpreter education programs must partner with the Deaf community and bring in native ASL signers to instruct and provide language modeling to learners. Building on that idea, by seeking opportunities to collaborate with Deaf community members outside of the university, IEPs can effectively model key components of the Deaf-centered approach to interpreting. This presentation will provide participants with an exemplar of how to teach translation theory while being inclusive, collaborative, and fun!

We will suggest ways that students and faculty can work with an external business and/or stakeholder to identify a need, work with the Deaf community to identify solutions and work in an interdisciplinary way with the university community to develop the solution. In this way, students are asked to be resourceful and creative in their problem-solving, they receive direct feedback from the Deaf community on their progress, and they create a product the entire community can be proud of. Finally, offering this unique project-based learning opportunity allows adult learners to see a full cycle of interpreting work from contracting to collaboration to completion.

We look forward to the opportunity to share our ideas to outline a translation project in your own learning community.

Participants will be able to:

  • Analyze translation theory as it applies to a community collaboration project
  • Assess their own language availability in both ASL and English
  • Create a translation of a document in American Sign Language
  • Increase awareness of technological tools used by current translators (task authenticity)

A white woman with blond hair going down past her shoulders wears a black shirt with a silver necklace and looks directly at cameraJeanette Nicholson graduated from Trent University with an Honours BA in 1995 and is soon to graduate with an M.Sc in ASL-English Interpreting with a Concentration in Interpreter Pedagogy. Jeanette began her journey within the Deaf community as a volunteer with the Deaf community in Peterborough, Canada in 1991. Upon encouragement from the Deaf community where she lived, Jeanette decided to pursue a career as a professional Sign Language interpreter. She graduated from George Brown College in May of 2000 on the Dean’s Honours List in the ASL-English Interpreting Program and has gained experience as a staff and freelance interpreter in various Deaf organizations and agencies. Jeanette is currently the Practice Professional Coordinator with Sign Language Interpreter Associates Ottawa (SLIAO), Inc.

Jeanette truly enjoys her role as a sign language interpreter, interpreter educator, and workshop presenter. Jeanette has passed the Canadian Association of Sign Language Interpreters (CASLI, formerly known as AVLIC) Certificate of Interpretation (COI), Ministry of Attorney General (MAG) examination, the Public Works Government Services Canada (PWGSC) exam from the Visual Language Interpretation/Translation Bureau of the Canadian Federal Government. Jeanette takes pride in being a member of her professional organization, CASLI, since 2000. She has held positions on the Ontario Association of Sign Language Interpreters (OASLI) Board of Directors over the years. Currently, Jeanette works and volunteers within the Deaf community and lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and son. Her biggest success and accomplishment is being the proud mother of her 17-year-old son who currently attends the E.C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton, Ontario, Canada, and whose dream is to attend Gallaudet University in a couple of years upon high school graduation.

A white woman with ear-length brown hair wearing a red shirt smiles at camera in front of tan wallDonna Flanders graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in Interpretation for the Deaf in 1991 and immediately relocated to Georgia to become an educational interpreter in the metro-Atlanta area. In 1999, Donna left the full-time workforce to expand her career working in the community. As an independent contractor, Donna has worked in a variety of settings, both in Georgia, across the States and even abroad. In the field of performance, she has had the opportunity to interpret on Broadway as a part of her training as a theatrical interpreter and has worked for more than 20 years in performance interpreting and coordinating interpreting services in the theaters in and around Atlanta. Donna has taught numerous workshops specifically designed for ASL learners and working interpreters and has also had the pleasure of presenting at several RID national-level conferences. Currently, Donna works on staff at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf in Clarkston, Georgia, interpreting for the staff and faculty, but also working on special interpreted projects related to the education and language nutrition of Deaf children. In recent years, Donna has earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Interpreting Pedagogy. As a seasoned professional working in the field of interpreting for over 30 years, Donna looks forward to meeting you and supporting you wherever you may be on your journey.