Course Schedule

(This schedule and related class downloads are subject to change without notice. You are responsible for knowledge of any changes.) Text: Mindess, A. (2006). Reading Between the Signs: Intercultural Communication for Sign Language Interpreters. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing/Intercultural Press.

Semester Calendar (This schedule is subject to frequent changes and updates; please check back often.)

Topic/Date Assignments/Exams Readings/Content

Definitions and the study of culture

Monday, January 10
Wednesday, January 12
Monday, January 17
Jan 10
Chapter 2 outline due
Student contract due
Mindess Chapter 1 (pp. 3–16) (We’re not going to discuss this, but the reading is recommended)
Mindess Chapter 2 (pp. 17–38)
Culture & Community
Interesting comparative chart of Deaf and ethnic cultures found over at (a subsite of Mind the lack of credible references.

Topics and discussion in intercultural communications

Wednesday, January 19
Monday, January 24
Jan 19
Chapter 3 outline due
Mindess Chapter 3 (pp. 39–64)
The surprising truth about what motivates us
An illustrated version of a talk given by Dan Pink to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA) about what motivates people. Excellent companion to our discussion about persuasion, rhetoric, and organizing information for high- and low-context peoples. While the illustrations are awesome, the talk materials are even better. (; 10:48)

American hearing cultural behaviors and tendencies

Wednesday, January 26
Monday, January 31
Jan 26
Chapter 4 outline due
Mindess Chapter 4 (pp. 65–75)

American Deaf cultural behaviors, morès, & reactions to technology

Wednesday, February 2
Monday, February 7
Wednesday, February 9
Feb 2
Chapter 5 outline due
Feb 9
Chapter 7 outline due
Mindess Chapter 5 (pp. 76–119)
Mindess Chapter 7 (pp. 143–156)
Mindess Chapter 6 (pp. 120–142) (We’re not going to discuss this, but the reading is recommended)
Origins, Formations, Rules, and (Mis)Usage of ASL Name Signs (Stringham)
This handout discusses traditional rules and applications of name signs in the Deaf Community. It also discusses reasons for possible miscreation and/or misapplications of name signs. For use with Mindess Chapter 5. 90KB.
Deafness as Culture (Dolnick)
An article from The Atlantic which discusses the viewpoints of Deaf people on such topics as a sociocultural (versus pathological) perspective on deafness, speechreading and speech training, cochlear implants, and the cognitive importance of American Sign Language. (Published citation/reference: Dolnick, E. (1983). "Deafness as Culture." The Atlantic, 272(3), p. 37–53). 3.1MB
Being Deaf
Self-written blog entry-cum-memoir about a young coder/developer’s experiences as a deaf person in a startup web company. The author is not Deaf, but deaf and his narrative, while not indicative of a Deaf/ASL-using person, nonetheless is an interesting view of general deafness and its perception by both d/Deaf and non-deaf people.
Deafhood (in the context of enculuration experiences)
Experiencing Deafhood (in BSL with English subtitles)
“Experiencing Deafhood, directed by Haaris Sheikh explores the concept of Deafhood, a term coined by Dr Paddy Ladd at the University of Bristol. This documentary showcases footage in Irish Sign Language and British Sign Language with English voiceovers in which we trace the educational, cultural identity and employment journeys of people from the Deaf community.” 55:42.
Deafhood Discussions
Ongoing ASL interpretations/translations of sections of Ladd’s Deafhood book. Discusses various components of the theory in an attempt to recreate the printed book with editorial context.
Characteristics of oppressed peoples on the interpreting context (Baker-Shenk)
Most of this article discusses historical and pattern discoursal and cultural characteristics of oppressed peoples. Finally, and most relevantly, rationale is given for why this impacts SL interpreters. (Published citation/reference: Baker-Shenk, C. (1985). Characteristics of oppressed and oppressor peoples: Their effect on the interpreting context. Proceedings of the 1985 RID Convention, RID Publications.) 1.5MB

Exam 1

Monday, February 14
Due February 18, 5:00 pm
Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Praxis: Observing Deaf cultural values in a discourse
Feb 22
Post/Discussion 1 due
Wednesday, February 16
Monday, February 21
Wednesday, February 23

The impact of cultural differences on interpreting interactions

Monday, February 28
Wednesday, March 2
Feb 28
Chapter 8 outline due
Midtem evaluation due
Mindess Chapter 8 (pp. 157–176)
Mindess Chapter 9 (pp. 177–188) (We’re not going to discuss this, but the reading is recommended)
Third Culture: Working Together (Bienvenu)
Printed in the RID’s 1987 Journal of Interpretation (Published citation/reference: Bienvenu, M. J. (1987). Third Culture: Working Together. Journal of Interpretation, RID Publications), this article by Bienvenu addresses the issues that exist in the overlap between Deaf people and hearing “professionals” (hence, “third culture”) and discusses a more collaborative working relationship. 2.6MB
Roles of community interpreters seen by medical personnel (Leanza)
This article looks at each participant perspective—pediatrician, interpreter, and client— in a spoken language interpreting event. The data and findings are very relevant to SL interpreters. (Published citation/reference: Leanza, Y. (2005). Roles of community interpreters in pediatrics as seen by interpreters, physicians and researchers. Interpreting, 7(2), 167–192.) 279KB.
Issues and implications of Deaf culture in therapy (Williams & Abeles)
Deaf culture provides unique challenges that can impact standard therapeutic teechniques. This article addresses issues regarding the ability of hearing therapists to work effectively with Deaf clients. (Published citation/reference: Williams, C. & and Abeles, N. (2004). Issues and implications of Deaf culture in therapy. Professional psychology: Research and practice, 35(6), 643–648.) 111KB.
Interpreters, Conversational Style, and Gender at Work (Morgan)
This is chapter 5 in Hauser (2008) Deaf Professionals and Designated Interpreters by Elizabeth Morgan. This reading addresses the concept of gender discoursal patterns and the role of gender in creating power/less language. 4.4MB
Interpreters working in Mainstreamed (Educational) Settings
Interesting blog post discussing the concept of “learned helplessness” (cf. “hostile dependency,” which we discuss in ASL 3310, Stewart, Schein & Cartwright (2004), chapter 6) and how interpreters in K-12 settings can, when their roles are not properly defined, contribute to a student’s over-dependency on a service provider. Good read.

Techniques for cultural adjustments

Monday, March 7
Wednesday, March 11
Mar 7
Chapter 11 outline due
Mindess Chapter 11 (pp. 218–238)
The Deaf Professional—Designated Interpreter Model (Hauser & Hauser)
Hauser, Finch, & Hauser is arguably the most important volume regarding the dynamic of Deaf professionals and interpreters printed in the last five years. Focus on pp. 14–17 which discuss specific types of cultural adjustments that 1) are necessary and 2) may be outside the traditional framework of the RID CPC. (Published citation/reference: Hauser, A. B. &, Hauser, P. C. (2008). The Deaf Professional—Designated Interpreter Model. In Deaf professionals and designated interpreters: A new paradigm, (P. C. Hauser, K. L. Finch, & A. B. Hauser, eds.) 3–21.) 3.3MB
Interview with Leah Katz-Hernandez, White House West Wing Receptionist
This interview with Leah Katz-Hernandez describes her everyday work as the new White House West Wing receptionist. Stellar example of how SL interpreting is moving away from the traditional spoken English-to-SL flow and more in favor of Deaf professionals.
Interpreting Culturally Rich Realities: Research Implications for Successful Interpretations (Cokely)
This is a pre-published version of this article by Dennis Cokely, Dean of the ASL Program at Northeastern University, regarding meaning in ASL vocabularies and interpretations. (Published citation/reference: Cokely, D. (2001). Interpreting culturally rich realities: Research implications for successful interpretations. Journal of Interpretation, 2001.) This article addresses the concept of intent in culturally-laden signs. 1.0MB
STATE-SCHOOL (Editor’s Comments; Cokely)
Dennis Cokely discusses the preeminence of bicultural competence in rendering an interpretation for the ASL sign STATE-SCHOOL. He posits that a significant amount of cultural adjustment may be required to produce a more equivalent spoken English interpretation. Compare with Cokely 2001 (above). (Published citation/reference: Cokely, D. (1982). Editor’s Comments. The Reflector: A Journal for Sign Language Teachers and Interpreters, 6(1).) 1.3MB
Praxis: Translation and meaning derivation
Monday, March 14
Wednesday, March 16
Monday, March 21
Identifying Subjects and Objects in American Sign Language (Stringham)

Exam 2

Wednesday, March 21
Due March 25, 5:00 pm
Chapters 8, 11 + translation/meaning

The interpreter's role and responsibilities

Wednesday, March 23
Monday, March 28
Mar 23
Chapter 10 outline due
Mindess Chapter 10 (pp. 189–217)
Interpreting: The culture of artful mediation (Atwood & Gray)
Atwood and Gray discuss the role of a SL interpreter as mediator. Contrast this with Mindess’ position in Chapter 10 that interpeters are not mediators. (Published citation/reference: Atwood, A. & Gray, D. (1985). Interpreting: The culture of artful mediation. Proceedings of the 1985 RID Convention, RID Publications.) 2.3MB
The Interpreter as Cultural Mediator (Pistillo)
As does Atwood & Gray, Giovanna Pistillo discusses interpreters as cultural mediators. Contrast this with Mindess’ position in Chapter 10 that interpeters are not mediators.
Third Culture: Making it Work (Sherwood)
Printed in the RID’s 1987 Journal of Interpretation (Published citation/reference: Sherwood, B. (1987). Third culture: Making it work. Journal of Interpretation, RID Publications), this article by Sherwood continues the theme of third (or overlapping) cultures by discussing a history of the interpreting community, positing ethnography and ethnocentrism in the SL interpreting framework, and posits a handful of behaviors for SL interpreters to create a better interpretative experience. 2.3MB
Praxis: Linguistic differences & contextualization
Mar 28
Post/Discussion 2 due
Wednesday, March 30
Monday, April 4
Linguistic Differences Between ASL and English (Stringham)
This handout compares and contrasts needed linguistic (or “form”) adjustments for interpreting between ASL and English. For class discussion only; not for reproduction or distribution. 24KB
Contextualization (Stringham)
This handout discusses miscues we make while interpreting and explains ten types of contextualization strategies. 56KB
Formality registers (Stringham)
Name signs (Stringham)

Interpreting in a virtual world

Wednesday, April 6
Monday, April 11
Apr 6
Chapter 12 outline due
Mindess Chapter 12 (pp. 239–252)
Steps Toward Identifying Effective Practices in Video Remote Interpreting (2010)
Steps Toward Identifying Effective Practices in VRS Interpreting (2008)
VRS interpreting is a rapidly evolving subfield and it's associated literature is lacking in depth and longitude. This 2008 report discusses what are (were?) best practices in VRS interpreting environments.
Video Relay Services: Interpreting Task Analysis Research Report
This state-of-the-union report for the VRS industry examines participants, perspectives, competencies, and call patterns of the video relay industry. (Published citation/reference: Taylor, M. M. (2005). Video Relay Services: Interpreting Task Analysis Research Report. Distance Opportunities for Interpreter Training Center, Denver, Colorado.

Interpreters and practicing cultural sensitivities

Wednesday, April 13
Monday, April 18
Apr 13
Chapter 13 outline due
Mindess Chapter 13 (pp. 253–274)

Final Exam

Thursday, April 21
Due April 26, 12:00 pm
Apr 20
All additional assignments/projects due
Chapters 10, 12, 13 + comprehensive