deaf older female teacher signing to a classroom in front of a green-colored blackboard

Utah Valley University | Fall 2019 | ASL3370.601 Sign to Spoken English

Home About Canvas GoREACT RSS

Interpreting in teams

  • ASL3370
  • ASL
  • English
  • public-speaking
  • teaming

There is no I in team

Nicodemus & Emmorey (2013) concluded that “bimodal interpreters receive significantly more training and practice working from English into ASL.” Arguably even less studied, much less practiced, is understanding how we work with colleagues in teams. Because not all interpreters and interpretations are alike, our expectations are idiosyncratic: we need to be not only mentally (linguistically) but also socially and emotionally stable and prepared to work with others in producing interpretations and transliterations. Interpreting is a public activity; it’s done in the company of others.

Here are some bullet points/learning outcomes of which we might want to be aware:

  • This is not a comprehensive semester/career-long overview of how to work with teammates; we will work together to identify some universal principles, but how do I continue my study into best teaming practices?
  • Considering the Demand-Control Schema (DC-S) as a framework (interpersonal demands), in analyzing ourselves and our work colleagues, am I introverted or extroverted? How do I deal with pressure on my personal space? What is the language of critique to which I respond best? How do I react to power/solidarity moves?
  • What is the language and grammar of teaming? How should we approach each other for logistical mediation in our work environments? Does s/he want me to sit close or far far away? Should I whisper or wave?
  • What cultural and value considerations should I think about when I work with teammates that approach work and work language different than I do?

What are we doing?

This is a two-part experimental and organic format to incorporate best practice teaming skills into our work. Participation and improved interpreting skills are the reward for this exercise.

There are a fair amount of readings that we’ll parse here; you’ll want to make sure you set aside enough time (you have at least the weekend, if not the week before) to read, skim, and annotate.

On the first day, the goal is to present our findings to each other from the assigned readings: what did you/we find in the resources that are best practices for teaming, what does teaming look like, what are some of the requirements for effective teaming relationships, etc.

On the second day, after gathering and gleaning what we think are best practices and principles from the resources, we’ll get into groups and, based on a demand-control schema framework (working a problem, rather than ticking a checklist) create best practices and/or heuristics that we’ll incorporate in our interpreting work during the rest of the semester.


Perspectives of Team Interpreting

(pp. 5–29, 35–37, 45–89 have helpful data; 90–95 conclusion/summary) Comprehensive thesis in which Deaf consumers and sign language interpreters were asked about various aspects of team interpreting: composition of interpreter teams, behaviour and characteristics of good and poor team interpreters, factors of successful team work and factors disturbing/compromising team work.

Gluck, P. (2011). Austrian perspectives of team interpreting: The views of deaf university students and their sign language interpreters. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg—Stendal.

Team Interpreting: Best Practices

(pp. 1–5) Short and extremely valuable taxonomy of pre-, during-, and post- checkins and tools professional team interpreters should consider for assignment work.

Russell, D. (2011). Team Interpreting: Best Practices.

Interpreting in Teams: Requesting and Offering Support

(pp. 49–53 ‘Background’; 58–85 skim ‘Data’; 90–92 ‘Conclusions’) The first known empirical study of how team members request/receive support during assignments. While the Conclusions are helpful to understand the entire study, dipping into the data is helpful in picking out specific behaviors is also important here.

Cokely, D. & Hawkins, J. (2003). Interpreting in teams: A pilot study on requesting and offering support. Journal of Interpretation, 11(1), pp. 49–93.

Team Interpreting: Defining What We Do

(pp. 1–18) Chapter 1 in the only known textbook about sign language interpreter teams. Hoza provides an introduction to teaming, why it should be considered, including physical and emotional support, and provides some recontexting of vocabularies important to the teaming process.

Hoza, J. (2010) Team Interpreting: As Collaboration and Interdependence. Alexandria, VA: RID Press.

Workshop Team Interpreting

(pp. 1–11) Participant materials for a continuing education workshop developing skills and perspectives on team interpreting. Briefly explains types of, factors for, and skills required for team members. Also discusses pre-, during-, and post-assignment behaviors and check-ins.

Swabey, L. (2000). Workshop: Team Interpreting, participant materials, n.p.

Intentional Teaming

(pp. 2–4, especially 6–9 & 11–15) Discusses the creation of interpreting teams at a national healthcare symposium. Describes their process of defining teams and expected behaviors.

Gajewski Mickelson, P. L. & Gordon, P. (2015). Intentional Teaming: Experiences from the Second National Healthcare Symposium, Journal of Interpretation 24(1), pp. 1–18.

Interpreter Teams Fact Sheet

(pp. 1–2) Very quick description of the purposes of teams and their purpose in physical support.

National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers. (n.p.). American Sign Language Interpreter Teams Fact Sheet.

RID Team Interpreting Practice Paper

(pp. 1–2) RID’s standard practice paper on team interpreting. Primarily focuses on team processes.

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. (2007). Standard practice paper: Team interpreting.

Do we play well with others? Personalities and interpersonal interactions among signed language interpreters

(pp. 19–43 ‘Behaviors’; 86 ‘Personality traits’; 87–93 Results) Master’s thesis project looking at behaviors team interpreters exhibit — for better or worse — and defining specific types of tendencies. As always, skipping to the Results section saves time, but there is helpful information in the data; p. 86 gives a concise table of respondents’ impressions about personality traits.

Hewlett, S. L. (2013). Do we play well with others? Personalities and interpersonal interactions among signed language interpreters (master’s thesis). Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Oregon. Retrieved from

Safe/unsafe: the impact of horizontal violence, microaggressions, and decision making control

(pp. 15–23, 40–41, 44-50, 57–68) Another master’s thesis; this addresses a recent hot-button issue: horizontal (passive and/or aggressive) violence and microaggressions. Types of microaggressive behavior are outlined. Wrapups and soundbites in the Conclusion chapter.

Hill, S. (2018). Safe/unsafe: the impact of horizontal violence, microaggressions, and decision making control on ASL/English interpreters (master’s thesis). Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Oregon. Retrieved from

Interpreter Preparation Conversations: Multiple Perspectives

(pp. 124–125, 127–130, 138–142) This article outlines a study conducted on both deaf and hearing interpreter teams in legal settings. While we aren’t getting into deaf/hearing team dynamics this semester, there is helpful discussion of preparation and the implications for interpreters working in teams.

Russell, D. (2008). Interpreter Preparation Conversations: Multiple Perspective. In D. Russell and S. Hale (eds.), Interpreting in Legal Settings, pp. 123–147. Gallaudet University Press: Washington, D. C.

Boothmates Forever: Teamwork in an Interpreting Booth

(pp. 261–262, 267–272) This is the only non-sign team article we’ll look at. Spoken language interpreters work in pairs not only to be able to overcome fatigue, but also to cooperate and help each other. This article is an attempt to shed some light on the process of booth teamwork.

Chmiel, A. (2008). Boothmates forever: On teamwork in an interpreting booth. Across Languages and Cultures 9(2), pp. 261–276. doi: 10.1556/Acr.9.2008.2.6.

Written Feedback Notes While Interpreting

(pp. 245 ‘Abstract’; 251–265 ‘Data’; 265–270 ‘Conclusions’) We don’t often talk much about notetaking, but this study provides a helpful outline about how notes can be efficacious if recorded in a meaningful way. Again, starting with the Conclusions may be helpful in getting an overall picture of the study, but you’ll likely find value in skimming through the data in the middle of the article.

Shaw, R. (1995). A conversation: Written feedback notes while team interpreting. In E. Winston (ed.) Mapping our course: A collaborative venture, Proceedings of the Tenth National Convention of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers. Charlotte, North Carolina. pp. 245–275.

Team Interpreting: Joint Venture

(pp. 10–11) Quick article focused on teaching interpreting team dynamics. What do we learn here that is practical in our work as interpreters?

Shaw, R. (2000). Team interpreting: Joint venture. CIT News, 20(3), pp. 10–11.

A Handbook for Court Interpreters Working in Teams

(pp. 4–6, 7–12) As this stage of your interpreter preparation, legal interpreting is far, far down the road. Like the Russell (2008) study, however, there are clearly overlaps in expected and necessary behaviors for team interpreting in legal settings and in everyday settings, even lab work in class. What are the roles of team members? What expertise are they expected to demonstrate?

Wisconsin Director of State Courts (2005). A Handbook for Court Interpreters Working in Teams. n.p.