Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University

Interpretation and Translation

The Interpretation Program offers a multidisciplinary approach, with a special focus placed on theory and research. Course research, as well as encouraged research, are done as ways for students to exercise theories and explore new strategies in problem-solving. The results of research done by students, faculty, and staff continually provide new insight to the interpretation field. Through its recently established Center for the Advancement of Interpreting and Translation Research (CAITR), the Interpretation Program also offers opportunities for scholars and students to collaborate on projects and promote initiatives that advance interpreting/translating research nationally and internationally.


Administration of Justice: The lived experiences of deaf Canadians

ID: 3429
Status: Ongoing
Start date: May 2017

Description

The primary aim of this applied research project is to investigate the experiences of deaf people, deaf blind people, and deaf people who have additional disabilities, who use sign language to access the administration of justice based on being victims of a crime, or as persons accused and/or convicted of crimes. The project will include the experiences of Indigenous deaf people, offering insight from a community that has been further marginalized. By examining the experiences of adults and senior citizens, we can identify the gaps and barriers in current service delivery, and the strategies needed in order to make the judicial system accessible for all Canadians, including deaf Canadians. Research of this kind has never previously been conducted in Canada. The project will expand Canada’s knowledge base about the gaps in support and services necessary to support this vulnerable community by pioneering the first study of its kind. Additionally, through collaboration with two scholars at two universities with a proven track record in legal and psychological sign language interpreting research, this project will build a comprehensive and national picture of the needs and the ways in which services can developed in order to provide access to justice for this under-researched community.  The objectives are to:

  • Address a gap in the research about victims of crime, by examining the experiences of deaf, deaf blind, deaf people with additional disabilities, and Indigenous deaf people from all regions of Canada;
  • Explore what services and supports are necessary in order for a deaf person to effectively participate in the judicial system, whether as a victim or as an accused;
  • Examine the impact of how inaccessible judicial systems may further victimize deaf people who are seeking supports and services;
  • Investigate how the presence of a deaf victim impacts on the administration of justice from the perspective of the advocates, the bench, the accused and witnesses, and all stakeholders.

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Case Studies of the Cognitive Apprenticeship Approach to Develop Writing Skills of American Sign Language-English Interpreting Students

ID: 3367
Status: Ongoing
Start date: August 2017

Description

Effective writing is taken to be a measure of academic development at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, but interpreter education has not provided guidance for how to develop these skills in our students.Using a case study approach, the co-investigators will focus is on the development of students’ cognitive maturity and self-authorship by examining their perceptions of the Cognitive Apprentice instructional approach during their writing coursework. An ultimate aim of this study is to determine whether cognitive apprenticeship may be a useful approach in guiding interpreting students in the development of their academic writing skills and, if so, to disseminate this information to other interpreter educators.

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Comprehension of text in ASL: Impact of linguistic complexity

ID: 3432
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2017

Description

It is important to know how American Sign Language (ASL) may be modified to match the language ability of a targeted population before material may be developed for a videotext publication. Right now there is no empirical basis for determining how ASL may be linguistically manipulated for a specific comprehension level. The literature on the relationship between linguistic complexity and comprehension is broad and a lot of it is related to reading. There is limited discussion on the relationship between comprehension and linguistic complexity of ASL. A few lines of research led us to hypothesize that syntactic and morphological complexity are respectively good areas to start the investigation. One line of research comes from language development studies. For example, Morgan et al., 2002, discuss morphologically complex verbs and Slobin et al., 2003, tried to investigate the development of complexity in classifiers. Another line of research comes from the relationship between age of ASL acquisition and grammatical knowledge of ASL. This study proposes to investigate how comprehension may be affected on the sentential level by varying the syntactic structure of two-clause sentences and the morphological complexity of classifiers.

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Development, Adaptation, and Norming of ASL Proficiency Test Assessment Tool

ID: 3431
Status: Ongoing
Start date: September 2011

Description

The purpose of this study is to adapt, pilot, and standardize the Assessing British Sign Language (BSL) Development Receptive Skills Test (1999) and the Assessing British Sign Language Development Production Test (2009) for use in American Sign Language (ASL) to establish standardized, norm-referenced measures of ASL skills. The current study will build on previous work involving the adaptation of the Assessing BSL Development Receptive Skills Test. This test has been translated, modified, and pilot tested with 47 children, and the findings provide support for the feasibility of ongoing test adaptation (2009). The Assessing BSL Development Production Test has not been adapted for use in other signed languages; however, since it involves a narrative elicitation task through the use of a language-free story on video, it can potentially be adapted to any language. Procedures for adapting the Production Test include developing analysis (scoring) guidelines geared to the specific grammatical features of ASL and pilot testing this version of the test with approximately 40 children within the appropriate age range (4 - 12 years). The collection of normative data for both the ASL Receptive Skills Test and the ASL Production Test will require access to larger numbers of native users of ASL at various age levels between 3 and 12 years. It is essential that the children participating in the initial normative testing be native ASL users, or more specifically, that they have been exposed to ASL from birth (typically deaf children with deaf parents). This is to ensure that norms are based on development resulting from full access to language learning. For this reason, it will not be possible to recruit enough children locally, and travel to various schools for the deaf in Canada and the USA will be necessary. Further normative testing will include a more heterogeneous sample of deaf children representing the broad range of ASL access and acquisition.

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Does an Interpreter’s Gender Affect How Face Threatening Acts are Conveyed?

ID: 3329
Status: Ongoing
Start date: November 2016
End Date: November 2017

Description

It has been argued that interpreters’ subconscious biases can influence their target language renditions, hindering the accuracy of the target language rendition of the source language. Some research suggests that gender identity can be reflected by one’s linguistic structure or style. In other words, certain language is gender influenced. This research will be conducted to determine whether or not subconscious biases that reflect gender identity will influence interpreted renditions of face threatening speech acts from American Sign Language (ASL) to English. Interpreters will be given a short video of five face threatening acts performed by male and female actors, which they will interpret from ASL to English. Once they have interpreted the various face threatening acts, if variation occurs, it will be documented and an explanation will be given as to why it may have occurred. If there are no notable differences between male and female interpreters, it suggests that male and female interpreters are able to control their gender-influenced speech.

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Educational Interpreters Incorporating Visual Phonics into Their ASL Interpretations: Perspectives and Practical Application

ID: 3026
Status: Completed
Start date: February 2016
End Date: February 2017

Description

Educational interpreters working in K-12 classrooms are tasked with the challenge of visually representing phonological aspects of the English language. While conveying such information via American Sign Language interpretations can be difficult, scholars have conducted research on how some professionals working with deaf and hard of hearing students are using one system called Visual Phonics to relay information about phonological features of English. Based on the promising results of this research on the system’s effectiveness, some public school systems are now requiring that educational interpreters incorporate Visual Phonics into their sign interpretations. However, no research currently exists that addresses educational interpreters’ use of the system within their sign products. Through the use of a survey and analysis of video recordings of educational interpreters incorporating Visual Phonics into their sign interpretations, this study aims to address the absence of research in this area by reporting the perspectives of educational interpreters implementing Visual Phonics into their work and describing ways in which they are utilizing the approach.

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The Effectiveness of Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpretation with DeafBlind (TASL) Users

ID: 3332
Status: Completed
Start date: December 2016
End Date: December 2017

Description

This research is an examination of the effectiveness of simultaneous and consecutive interpretation with Tactile American Sign Language (TASL) users in the DeafBlind Community. The DeafBlind community has gained recognition over a period of time, with strong cultural values and unique linguistic evolution within the community. The interpreting field is still considered a rather recent and modern discipline with little research in relation to the services provided for DeafBlind consumers. Over numerous years the field has heavily studied the importance of Visual American Sign Language (VASL), and has not yet comprehensively studied the emergence of TASL and how it has impacted the field of interpretation. My data collection will consist of a variety of linguistic features that the interpreters produce as they work from spoken English to ASL/VASL and then into the initial target language, TASL. This linguistic analysis is hoped to support the findings of consecutive interpretation as a more beneficial and successful mode of services. It is further hoped that this study can be used to educate and expand our knowledge about how the field of interpreting can improve the quality of services provided for DeafBlind (TASL) consumers. This research will support the growth and development of the field.

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Interpreters' Reflections on Interpreting a Presidential Address

ID: 3370
Status: Ongoing
Start date: March 2017

Description

Professional interpreters perform what is arguably one of the most challenging linguistic tasks possible – comprehending messages in one language, while simultaneously rendering their meaning into another language (Chang & Schallert, 2007; Christoffels & de Groot, 2005; Gerver, 1976; Padilla, Bajo, Cañas & Padilla, 1995). Little is known. Studies of interpretation have historically focused on the external product of the work, that is, comparisons of the target text with that of the source. In recent years, however, the study of interpretation has undergone a considerable shift of interest away from prescriptive measurements towards more descriptive positions. One of the consequences of this shift of interest has been the increase in empirical research into the cognitive processes engaged during interpretation. This was driven by the belief that what goes on in the interpreter's head while s/he is translating is at least as crucial to the understanding of translation as a comparative analysis of the final product. In this study we draw on videorecorded data from a study in which we used the Talk Aloud Protocol with six interpreters who interpreted the 2009 inaugural address of President Barack Obama.

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Interpreting multimodality in multiparty, technical meetings

ID: 3458
Status: Ongoing
Start date: November 2016

Description

While extended hearing-Deaf interactions may not have been historically commonplace, in recent decades, more and more Deaf people are working in predominately hearing workplaces and communicate with coworkers at least in part via interpreters. Deaf and hearing colleagues have several semiotic channels at their disposal with which to communicate: gesture, lip-reading, and writing are just a few. But these channels only have limited communicative capital that is quickly spent; in extended interactive discourses, where colleagues gather to discuss work-related activities, for instance, interpreters are frequently needed. In theory, Deaf and hearing interactants rely on interpreters to make sense of their interlocutors. In practice, though, a great deal of interactive meaning can be (and is likely) derived from visibly-accessible (manual and non-manual) gestures. What happens when hearing and Deaf people engage around a specific task while an interpreter is present and working? Presumably, the embodied elements of the spoken utterances are accessible to the Deaf interlocutors. Are they seen by the Deaf participants? Are they seen by the interpreter? What is made of them?

In this study, we examine interpretations of multiparty interactions in a professional setting where Deaf and hearing participants have to work together to achieve a shared task. Interpreters have more recently been described as “narrative mediators” who “actively distribute opportunities to participate, by giving voice to participants’ stories and (re-)authoring the current story as a story of cooperation” (Baraldi 2012, 298). Interpreted interactions present a unique opportunity to see how gesture is woven into the sign interpretations. Source language intrusions (both strategic and unintentional) are common during the process of interpreting (Sequeiros 1998, 2002) but we often think of these intrusions as syntactic or morphological. Do intrusions occur in gestural, nonverbal material as well?

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Interpreting Protest: An Examination of American Sign Language-English Interpreters in the Deaf President Now Protest

ID: 3343
Status: Ongoing
Start date: May 2017
End Date: May 2019

Description

This study will provide an in-depth analysis of the work performed by American Sign Language-English interpreters who offered their services in the Deaf President Now (DPN) protest. Although the work of individuals who provide written language translation services in political settings has recently become a focus of research (Baker, 2006, 2016), to date, little attention has been given to interpreters who offer linguistic mediation between speakers and signers in protests. This case study of interpretation in the DPN protest will be a first step in filling this gap in knowledge about the provision of bimodal (spoken-signed) interpretation in a protest setting. Drawing from both archival evidence (e.g., newspaper articles, video footage, organizational documents) and semi-structured interviews with interpreters and protesters, I examine both the narratives that were mediated by the DPN interpreters as well as the narratives expressed by interpreters about their experiences. I will employ narrative theory to analyze the work of “activist translators and interpreters” (Baker, 2013, p. 24). Specifically, I will examine the organization of interpreting services, interpreters’ ideology, and the linguistic and extralinguistic decisions made by the interpreters.

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Language Attitudes about Interpreters

ID: 3369
Status: Ongoing
Start date: August 2017

Description

The notion of language attitudes has a place in psychology, sociology, anthropology, education, and history, among other disciplines Bilingualism and minority languages are not topics that are confined to linguistics or language studies, but are debated in a wide variety of fields, including Interpretation and Translation Studies. Drawing from data on social media sites, this study addresses the following questions: 1) What language attitudes do signed and spoken language interpreters, translators, and lay persons hold, specifically in relation interpretation and translation work? 2) What attitudes do signed and spoken language interpreters, translators, and lay persons hold about languages, specially in relation to one another’s work? The aim of this project is to confront issues of attitudes within interpretation and translation and to show that they will refine and improve our understanding of how we view one another in Interpretation and Translation Studies.

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Like fish in water? Deaf-parented interpreters and social capital

ID: 3339
Status: Completed
Start date: March 2017
End Date: May 2017

Description

Deaf-parented interpreters who are hearing, commonly called Codas, are often acculturated within the deaf community, yet their auditory status differentiates them from their parent(s). This difference can cause conflict in perceptions of in-group or out-group status for the Coda interpreter. The difference in experience and skill, as well as the experience of being raised in a deaf home are anecdotally reported to affect deaf-parented (Coda) interpreters’ relationships with the people they interpret for and with. This ethnographic study uses a grounded theory approach to further explore the social capital of deaf-parented interpreters within the field of American Sign Language (ASL) - English interpreting and to better understand the dynamics of interpreter-consumer dynamics. This study examines the perceptions of deaf-parented interpreters within the deaf community of study participants. Bourdieu’s (1986) concepts of social and linguistic capital provide a framework for an exploration of the perceptions and experiences held by interpreters and consumers. The findings from this study will provide a better understanding of the relationships between an interpreter’s upbringing and early linguistic environment and the perceptions of them within the deaf community. This study aims to fill the gap on available research and provide an understanding of deaf-parented interpreters.

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Metalinguistic References in Interpreting: Deaf-Hearing Relay Interpreting Teams

ID: 3070
Status: Completed
Start date: October 2015
End Date: December 2017

Description

The project investigates metalinguistic references in interactions mediated by Deaf-hearing interpreting relay teams. Metalinguistic function is the use of language to talk about language. Creating an interpretation can be challenging when language is used at the metalinguistic level. Interpreting metalinguistic references is especially challenging for bimodal (sign-speech) interpreters, because working between different modalities does not allow for providing a verbatim example from the source text. Due to modality constraints, signed language interpreters must employ strategies to render the communicative intent that is present in the source, but which is not accessible through the mere presentation of the original words or signs. Similarly, the coordination effort involved in a Deaf-hearing interpreting relay team may have important ramifications for the management of metalinguistic references.

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Products

G. Petitta, V. Dively, M. Halley, M. Holmes, & B. Nicodemus (March 31, 2017). Discourse strategies used by Deaf-hearing interpreting relay teams to manage metalinguistic references. Presented at the Symposium on Signed Language Interpretation and Translation Research, Gallaudet University, Washington D.C.


SignALL - Automated Translation Project: Data collection Phase I

ID: 3424
Status: Completed
Start date: January 2017
End Date: July 2017

Description

SignALL is a project based in Hungary that aims to provide full automated sign-to-text translation. A proof-of-concept application was demonstrated in 2014. SignALL is a kit of simple devices – USB cameras and depth sensors, available anywhere – plus recognition and translation software. It is intended to automatically processes sign language (ASL) into grammatically correct sentences in English. Beyond the prototype stage, by adding a signing avatar, it is intended to enable two-way communication between deaf and hearing individuals, and between deaf people using different sign languages.

The partnership between SignALL and Gallaudet University is to develop a lexicon for an initial prototype application for ASL to English, as well as a set of sentences that provides the proper context for using the lexicon. The target size of the lexicon is 1000 commonly used ASL signs and sentences in everyday conversation, which are recorded through motion capture and video. 

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Storied Realities: An Examination of Critical Incident Narratives of Deaf Translation

ID: 3321
Status: Completed
Start date: October 2016
End Date: February 2017

Description

This study will bring long overdue attention to the practice of Deaf translation by investigating the social, cultural, educational, and linguistic factors that have shaped Deaf translators’ work between American Sign Language (ASL) and English specifically on translation from written English to ASL. Taking a narrative inquiry approach (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), in-depth, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with five experienced Deaf translators to gather first-hand accounts of seminal moments in their lives – critical event narratives – regarding their experiences at translation and will analyze critical event narratives that shaped the translators’ personal and professional identity. Using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-step method of thematic analysis, the video recorded interview data will be examined for common themes that reflect Deaf translators’ perspectives and practices in creating translations. These perspectives will be examined through theoretical frameworks that try to account for the human experience. Frameworks taken from social constructionism, feminist theories, and Deaf Studies will inform analysis of the data. The aim of this study is to for the first time, provide a rich description of Deaf translators and position Deaf translation as a critical activity within the field of Translation Studies.

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A survey of the reading habits of certified American Sign Language-English interpreters: Implications for quality professional practice

ID: 3364
Status: Ongoing
Start date: January 2017
End Date: January 2018

Description

Professions often set the standard that practitioners must stay current on discipline-related knowledge and skills to advance the quality of their work. One critical means to acquire knowledge is to read professional literature and research studies about a field. However, studies of the reading habits of various professionals, including librarians, internists, teachers, chiropractors, and infection control specialists have yielded mixed results regarding practitioners’ engagement with and application of professional reading materials. Numerous journals now publish interpretation research, and new graduate programs in interpretation are being established with research as a critical component of the curricula. Yet it remains questionable whether working interpreters read professional literature and, if so, whether they apply it to their practice. What are interpreters’ reading habits? Do they apply reading to their interpreting practice? To address these questions, we conducted a large-scale survey study on the reading habits of two groups of interpreters: signed language interpreters (American Sign Language-English) and spoken language interpreters. The survey consisted of multiple choice and short answer questions about four domains: 1) pleasure reading, 2) preparation reading, 3) professional literature, and 4) research studies. The survey explored interpreters’ reading patterns, including frequency, attitude, and motivation for reading, and their application of reading to practice. We provide preliminary results from the study and argue that transforming research into practice is critical to increasing the quality of interpreting services.

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Translation and Interpretation Studies Special Edited Issue

ID: 3366
Status: Ongoing
Start date: September 2017

Description

Translation and Interpreting Studies (John Benjamins) accepted proposals for a special thematic issue on signed language interpretation and translation to be published in April of 2018.  The editors aim to bring together papers that address critical issues in the linguistic analysis of interpretations and translations that occur between a signed language and spoken or written language. The volume includes data driven papers on the spectrum between a microanalysis of one specific lexical item to the examination of a full interpreted or translated discourse. Papers may take a descriptive, applied, or theoretical approach to interpreting and translation of a signed language. The editors encourage a broad range of methodological approaches and theoretical frameworks, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.

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Use of Address Terms in American Sign Language: An Examination of Deaf Students and Faculty in Higher Education

ID: 3368
Status: Ongoing
Start date: August 2017

Description

The use of language in interaction entails more than just exchanging information about thoughts and facts between one person and another. Language is also important in how relationships among people are defined and negotiated. While engaging in conversations people consciously or unconsciously show their identities, their connection to a specific culture or social group, and their desire to come close or distance themselves from others. A significant area of language in which these functions are highlighted is in address terms. This study investigates the use of address terms (e.g., pronouns, titles) and related linguistic and social behaviors that serve to establish social relationships between faculty and deaf students in a postsecondary setting. Specifically, we ask: How do deaf students establish social relationship when addressing deaf faculty members in a variety of communication situations (e.g., in-person meetings, email communication, introductions)? How do deaf faculty members establish social relationships with students? What are student and faculty attitudes about social relationships in the postsecondary setting.

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Using L2/Ln Sign Language to Teach Sign Language Interpreters

ID: 3477
Status: Ongoing
Start date: March 2017

Description

This chapter addresses the role of L2/Ln sign language in the teaching of signed language interpreters.  The chapter will focus on two main considerations in the role of signed language in interpreter education: the teaching of the L2/Ln language itself, to students of interpretation, and considerations of timing and methodology of that; and the use of L2/Ln signed language as the language of instruction when teaching interpreting to students, particularly while teaching cognitive, professional, and other aspects of interpretation.  

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Scholarship and creative activity

2017

Boudreault, P. & Supalla, T., (2017, August) Sign Language Tool Kit. Deaf Academics Conference. Copenhagen, Denmark.

Boudreault, P. (2017, August) Deaf Studies Digital Journal: The Next Generation . Deaf Academics Conference 2017. Copenhagen, Denmark.

Boudreault, P. (2017, May). Technology and sign language: Deconstructing and disembodiment of academic texts. Presented at the Society for Textual Embodiment Scholarship Conference, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

2017

Cagle, K., Metzger, M. & Hunt, D. (October 2016). Interpreter Education: AA, BA, MA… Oh My!. Presentation given at the CIT Biennial Convention, Lexington, KY.

Cagle, K., Nicodemus, B. Beldon, J., & Swabey, L. (2016, October). My fellow citizens. Presentation given at the CIT Biennial Convention, Lexington, KY.

2017

Mayhew, H. (2017, March). Social Issues Education Among ASL-English Interpreters. Presentation at the Symposium on Signed Language Interpretation and Translation Research, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.

2017

Shaw, Emily (April 2017). Winning charades or achieving common ground? A micro-analytic take on gesture in multiparty interaction. Paper presented at the Iconicity in Language and Literature Conference at the University of Brighton, UK.

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