Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Anti-Deaf Hate Speech #NOTFUNNY

by • February 14th, 2013

What's happening VB? You just realized the beauty of communication using a visual-gestural human language!

Fox News, Boston affiliate channel 25, and Doug VB Goudie should be sued for hate speech. Seriously. Denying Deaf people the right to information in a language they can understand is violence. Ridicule of their language is an act of violence on a continumm that begins with disregard and ends with people dying because they […]

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Introduction to Inter-Role Dialogue

by • May 18th, 2012

Steph at work: presenting on "Dialogue under Occupation" at Lebanese American University, Beirut (Photo by Razvan Sibii)

Many interpreters are familiar with the idea of intercultural or intergroup communication, which takes the identity of participants as important to meaning. . This workshop extends the idea of “identity” to the different roles individuals have in any communication situation. We’ll explore the case of emergency management interpreting, where First Responders have very clear priorities that may not coincide with what Deaf and hard-of-hearing people believe they need. Likewise, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have express communication needs that may not coincide with what First Responders believe they can accommodate.

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Social Media and Sign Language Interpreters

by • February 1st, 2011

Seeking illumination!

No one knows what recent changes in communication mean for our relationships with each other or where they will lead in the future. How can we know what to talk about now?

The fact that Facebook is a public space and the profession’s traditional confidentiality rules apply as they would under any other circumstances has been overwhelmed by the emergent social interaction made possible with online communication technology.

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The kindness of interpreters

by • August 16th, 2010

Region 1 Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Albany NY

Rene Pellerin froze in motion when the interpreter placed her hand on his back. While telling his story, he had been rotating gradually toward his right, giving the camera his profile and making it difficult for those in the audience to his left to read his signing clearly. Rene thanked Regan for saving him from talking to a wall. The laughter from the audience was rich with appreciation.

Rene shared several anecdotes from his personal life and professional career with the State of Vermont. Rene uses normal, everyday events that anyone can relate to in order  to draw us into his experience as a Deaf person gradually becoming blind. His detailed explanations take full advantage of the linguistic capacity of signed languages to put you in your body. For instance, when Rene described his train ride to college, he included walking through the carriages to get a drink from the cafe car. I didn’t just remember my own struggles with those dang doors, trying to balance against the rocking motion, and how many cars they can string together – I re-felt the embodied sensations that generate those memories.

You can perhaps imagine

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Rights & Responsibilities of Simultaneous Interpreters

by • August 14th, 2010


Region 1 Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Albany NY

Laughing our way to a healthy profession

I attend conferences in several different fields. No one laughs as often or as loud as sign language interpreters. Robyn Dean’s workshop, “I don’t think we’re supposed to be talking about this….” Case Conferencing and Supervision for Interpreters, was punctuated with humor a dozen times an hour, and occasionally we would hear outbursts from the neighboring workshop group as they took Steps to Feel More Comfortable Interpreting the Twelve Steps. Having a sense of humor is prerequisite for survival in this field, especially being able to make fun of oneself and teasing colleagues in affectionate ways. In the open comment time after Keynote Presenter Lewis Merkin’s small group activity about the passions we bring to the profession, Betty Colonomos commented on the health of growing pains: instead of staying stuck in comparative judgment, we’ve become more cooperative with each other time, allowing the recognition of each other’s humanity. Her reflection reminded me of Robyn’s definition of “responsibility” as the act of continuing in conversation. Instead of being stopped from communicating because of an unanticipated reaction, to be response-able means finding a way to respond

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managing time while learning to understand

by • August 13th, 2010

There is a special quality to connections based on conscious cooperation that distinguishes them from relationships that stem from the automatic flow of using the same language. This is the zone where the intercultural communication skills of simultaneous interpreters have particular importance and special use. No other communicative practice has as much potential for forging individual, cultural, and systemic capacities for the equitable embrace of diversity and fair treatment of difference.

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Showing Empowerment

by • April 10th, 2010


By asserting their right to have a major, influential voice in the workings of the professional sign language interpreting organization, the American Deaf community scores a victory for minority language users everywhere. This is a story that needs to be told!

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Retaking RID: A Story of Deaf Empowerment

by • April 4th, 2010


Haverhill, MA
New England Deaf Studies Conference

The following timeline is an outsider’s view over twenty years of involvement with the American Deaf Community. It was presented as one of four keynote presentations at the New England Deaf Studies Conference on Saturday, 3 April, 2010 at Northern Essex Community College. Please comment with additions and corrections!


Workshop at Ball State University, Muncie IN, involving Deaf, CODAs, and non-Deaf family-friends leads to establishment of RID.


Al Pimental (Deaf) named first CEO of RID


RID incorporated as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization
“Reverse Skills Certificate” established


RID has become an organization run by non-Deaf people for the perceived professional needs of non-Deaf people.


MJ Bienvenu proposes that RID recognize ASL as an official language of the organization. Denied.


Deaf request for “Voice off!” at the RID Region 1 conference (Nancy Becker?) (Mary Gorman?) interrupt a Phil Donahue-type entertainment event to ask interpreters to sign for themselves, instead of relying on English interpreted by their colleagues into ASL
Joan Wattman, 8 or 9 years into her career, discusses this with Linda Carroll, and experiences a paradigm shift in thinking about fluency & flows of interaction



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two talks at Heriot Watt

by • March 10th, 2009

for the
Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland, Heriot Watt University & the Translation Studies Graduate Programme, University of Edinburgh

Fishing for Culture and Missing Language:
Interpretation and Organizational Creativity

Culture(s) and discourse(s) are among the most unmanageable elements of international business. “You can’t model panic.” Patterns of cultural interaction and, especially, the range of interpretations of these patterns, have profound effects on the design and implementation of business plans. For instance, are differences of language a problem or a benefit? Do the homogenizing effects of using English as the language of international management outweigh the constant adaptation required by working multilingually? Discourses about simultaneous interpretation (SI) at the European Parliament (with its 23 working languages) pit danger and loss against loss and resignation. “Loss” of fluency and clarity worries professional interpreters at the European Parliament (EP) and “loss” of direct contact between interlocutors (users of interpreting services, in this case Members of the EP) seem – counterintuitively – to express anxieties about multilingualism and the possibilities for control. Understood as a practice of intercultural communication, the tensions made evident when simultaneous interpretation is used are a vital source of creativity typically overlooked because of conditioned (monolingual) preferences for using a

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Rosa Lee: got it going on!

by • January 2nd, 2009

Grrl is rocking, there’s no doubt! 🙂

I wrote about another music video that she has interpreted in her wonderful style, from artificial code to organic language. In Cry Me A River, she has adapted the lyrics about a heterosexual (male/female) relationship to apply to the cross-cultural interaction of Deaf and “hearing” (non-deaf).

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