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I just attended a whole day of Orientation events at Chapman University.  I was thrilled to find that they had ASL interpreters for all the large group events with podium speakers!  For the 1 1/2 hour long convocation ceremony, they even had a team!  First of all, props to Chapman for understanding and paying for the services Deaf people need.  That being said, I think they could improve their service even more.

My husband works at Chapman University, which means that I get to meet all sorts of behind-the-scene University people that most students don’t.  At a wedding a while ago, I met the woman who was in charge of booking the interpreters for special events at Chapman.  She told me that they were looking to improve the services they offered.  I believe I told them about RID certification and how that was a really good way to know you have an amazing interpreter.

The interpreters yesterday were a mixed bag.  I think they probably came from an agency, but really I’m just guessing.  The first group I watched was a team of two women.  The first woman was absolutely amazing and gave an equal-access interpretation.  She was funny when the speaker was funny, extremely animated, and caught almost every bit of information being thrown out by the speaker.  The second gal was not as good.  To be fair, she was interpreting for a man using lots of folksy language and English idioms, but I felt that she didn’t match the speaker very well and she left out a lot of non-essential information.

The team did well, though.  I hardly noticed when they switched between each other and they even kept interpreting through the non-captioned video that was shown.  I was thoroughly impressed.

That night, I went to a talk on the History and Traditions of Chapman University.  It was such a cool and funny class.  I was sitting in a really bad place to watch the interpreter (there were very tall people all around me and she was standing on the floor).  While I can’t really comment on the rest of the interpreting job she was doing, she didn’t interpret through the non-captioned movie, which I didn’t appreciate.

The two bits of advice I would have to Chapman about using interpreters in the future would be to ask the agency for people who are RID certified or have been interpreting more than five years.  They do so much to make their students feel welcome, and I really think it would be such a relief for Deaf students to see that they were getting equal access to information being presented.  It would make Deaf parents feel that they were leaving their student in the hands of someone who not only cares, but is willing to go above and beyond to meet the needs of their child.

The second piece of advice would be to put those interpreters on a podium, please!!  I’d like to be able to see them no matter where I was sitting, and a little elevation will do just that.

Chapman University is a class act.  For people who know next to nothing about interpreters or interpreting, they did really well!  I was impressed by everything I saw yesterday, not just the interpreters.  Watching their interpreters made me feel like they really cared, though.  They really wanted everyone to have a good experience at orientation, not just the “normal” hearing freshmen.  I think I’m going to like attending here!

 have a very exciting announcement!  At least, I’m very excited about it.  I have officially dropped out of Mt. San Antonio College.  With budget cut after budget cut, I just can’t get classes for the life of me.  I’m now 2 years behind in a 3 year program (of which I had taken the first year before I started at Mt. SAC), and I’m afraid of how much longer it will take me to get through if I stay with the current plan.

The new plan is to transfer to Golden West College.  The same price as Mt. SAC with a good overall reputation, It looks like I’ll be able to get into all the classes I need fairly easily (!!!).  It also looks like their program is a little less strict than the Mt. SAC program, but that doesn’t bother me at all.  I’m ready to get my hands in the air, and I’ve decided that I just can’t wait as long as Mt. SAC expects me to, crossing my fingers every year that I get into the class I need this time.

On the other front, I start attending Chapman University for my BA this year.  I love telling people I’m a History major and then, when they ask me what I plan to do with that degree, tell them “ASL Interpreter”.  I get many odd looks, and it’s lots of fun.  Of course, then I have to explain to them that I need a BA in anything to get certified, I’ve always liked History, and I figure why not get a degree in it.  Especially when any degree is helpful.

Chapman so far has been a dream come true.  Their registration proccess and welcoming attitude have been so amazing that it makes me want to cry.  I’ve never felt so wanted by an institution in all my life, and after all the denials and struggles to register at community college, it’s been amazing to feel liked.  I’ve looked carefully at making a custom minor for myself there, in Deaf Studies.  All I’m waiting for is to submit my plan to the accademic council.  Here’s the proposal I’m sending them:  I hope it works!!!  I’ll keep you posted on what happens with this, and on any really cool stuff I learn along the way.

To whom it may concern:

I am interested in pursuing a custom minor in Deaf Studies from Chapman University.  I believe that with my course work from Mt. San Antonio College, supplemented by some of the upper-division course work from Chapman, I will be able to achieve a relevant degree in this subject from your university.  These are the classes I propose to use toward that minor:

Lower Division: (10 units total)

American Sign Language 4 – 4 units.  This class has been taken through Mt. San Antonio College.  The course description is as follows:  72 hours lecture.  Emphasis on expressive conversational skills in American Sign Language along with continued focus on grammatical and cultural features.  CSU/UC transferable.

American Deaf Culture – 3 units.  This class has been taken through Mt. San Antonio College.  The course description is as follows: 72 hours lecture.  American Deaf cultural norms, values, mores, and institutions.  CSU transferable.

American Sign Language Structure – 3 units.  This class has been taken through Mt. San Antonio College.  The course description is as follows: 54 hours lecture.  Linguistic Study of American Sign Language, including phonology, morphology, and syntax.  Sociolinguistic issues will also be discussed.  CSU/UC transferable.

Upper Division: (12 units total) – These classes would be taken at Chapman University.  After the proposed class, I have included a description as to how I think each class will contribute to my understanding of Deafness.  There are more than twelve units worth of classes listed, and I thought that the GE committee and myself could pick twelve units from this list so as to come up with the strongest combination of classes in this minor.

COM 480, Nonverbal Communication – 3 units.  While American Sign Language is the preferred communication system used throughout the American Deaf community, some Deaf people have had limited exposure to ASL or have not learned to use it at all.  On the other end of the spectrum are Deaf people who have not had much exposure to English and cannot use language alone to communicate with the hearing world around them.  I believe that this class will help me better understand these groups of people and how they communicate with the world through methods other than language.

IES 413, Current Issues in Disability Studies and Services – 3 units.  Deaf people don’t consider themselves disabled, yet use and benefit from many of the services available to disabled groups.  By studying these services and issues, and also the viewpoint of non-disabled groups toward the disabled,  I will have a better understanding of the options available for Deaf people living in America and how being grouped with the disabled effects their lives both positively and negatively.

Independent Study – 3 units.  I propose concentrate on one of two topics.  The first is to study George Veditz and the National Association of the Deaf’s quest to preserve American Sign Language for future generations during the early 1900’s through the use of film.  As part of this topic, I would also like to study similar efforts today to preserve ASL on film.  A second possibility would be to study Deaf art and literature and how it depicts and shapes the Deaf world view.

Internship – 3 units. I would like to intern with either the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD), or Deaf West Theater.  These are both premiere Deaf-run institutions in Southern California and I believe that interning at one of these places will give me practical insight into Deaf Culture and the Deaf way of life that cannot be achieved through classes alone.  Both groups accept interns frequently.

This equals 22 units, one more than the 21 unit minimum required to qualify for a minor per the 2011-2012 Academic Catalogue.  I have also looked carefully at the other language-based minors at Chapman and believe that these selections are in keeping with the theme of those programs.

In addition to this information, I would also like to present the requirements to several Deaf Studies minors from various colleges across America.  I believe they will show you that the course of study above is consistent with established programs across the nation.

Gallaudet University, the premier institute for the Deaf,  includes:

  • American Sign Language courses
  • Deaf Culture
  • American Sign Language Structure
  • Disability Studies
  • Internship
  • Introduction to Deaf View/Image Art

Rochester Institute of Technology, an institution allied with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf:

  • American Sign Language courses
  • Deaf Culture in America
  • Linguistics of American Sign Language
  • Special Topics: Deaf Art and Cinema
  • Oppression in the Lives of Deaf People

University of Southern Maine includes:

  • American Sign Language courses
  • Introduction to the Deaf World (Deaf Culture)
  • ASL Linguistics
  • Research Internship
  • Deaf Art, Film, and Theater

Boston University includes:

  • American Sign Language courses
  • History and Culture of the Deaf
  • American Sign Language Structure
  • Field Experience
  • Deaf Literature and ASL Folklore

Thank you so much for your consideration in allowing me to take this minor.  Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to make this decision easier.

Sincerely,

Casey E. Hamilton

n my interpreting class last night everyone was required to do a group presentation on a topic of their choice.  There are only four boys in the class, so they all banded together and decided to do gender issues in interpreting.  Out of all the presentations, theirs impressed me the most.  They brought up a ton of interesting stuff.  that I had never contemplated before about interpreting for a person of the opposite gender.

*Disclaimer: There are dirty words in this post.

To start off their presentation one of the boys signed a story to us and asked us to write down our interpretation.  He told us it was an informal conversation among friends, so we should keep that in mind while interpreting.  My translation was “3 of my friends and I went out to a bar.  We were sitting at the counter when this girl walked up and sat down.  Her skirt was so short, you could totally see her vagina.”    Other girls had written down silly euphemisms like “Lady Junk” and our female teacher wrote down “she was clearly not wearing chonies.”

The boy’s point on this was that none of those words would have come out of their mouths… possibly vagina, but not very likely.  When they did the same excercise, they came up with words that would be considered much dirtier, like pussy and snatch… words that most females feel uncomfortable saying.  I’ve spent a lot of time around (extremely) rude and crass boys before, but none of those other terms came to my mind as I was translating.  I don’t know if I was just so concentrated on the meaning that I forgot I was representing someone else’s conversation, or if it’s truly because I’m female and uncomfortable with saying those things.  Maybe it was a little of both.  I think this exercise was a drastic example of how the male mind and the female mind work completely differently, and that you have to be aware of those things if you’re going to interpret for someone of the opposite gender.

Another thing they brought up was “Passive Voice”.    Passive Voice is a way of speaking and acting towards another person that is deferential.  Women often use passive voice when interacting with people, both male and female, so as not to be perceived as bitchy.  We do it without thinking about it, so it’s not a conscious choice or anything.  Males, however, often use a more aggressive voice – especially in business situations.  This will influence your interpreting style.

To illustrate this, the boys talked about the story of a woman interpreter and her male deaf client who was a manager at a company.  She noticed as she was interpreting for him at work meetings that the assignments he gave people either didn’t get done or got done much slower than some of the other manager’s requests.  She decided to have a chat with her client about how he wanted to be perceived around the office and then did her best to perpetuate that image through her speaking, even if it was uncomfortable for her.  People suddenly started taking his assignments more seriously.  When her client’s work evaluation came up, she did the same.  Instead of saying things like “I think I did pretty well this year”, she would say things like, ” I did great this year and this is why.”  She said she felt very rude and pushy doing it that way, but the performance evaluation went amazingly well.  When it was over, her deaf client told her it was the best evaluation he had ever had.

I think this is another good example of an interesting thing: I know how to be a woman in the world, but in order to be a good interpreter I should also learn about being a man in the world as best I can.  If I don’t learn more about gender dynamics and how men operate, I can potentially hurt a client by misrepresenting him.  I mean, best case scenario – he sounds silly.  Worst case scenario – he misses out on a promotion because he’s perceived as weak.

It’s a lot of food for thought, and something I’ve never really pondered before.  This interpreting stuff is harder than it looks!!

I just got word a few days ago that I got into Chapman University, which I’m so thrilled about, I can’t even tell you!!  They like me, they really like me!

While this doesn’t exactly have to do with sign, it does get me one step closer to getting a BA, which gets me one step closer to being certified as an interpreter.   I just thought I’d like to share the good news.  🙂

I started my first interpreting class two weeks ago, and boy are we talking about some interesting things!!  The name of the class is “Principles of Interpreting” and, as my teacher says, it’s everything about interpreting that doesn’t have to do with ASL.  We’ve been dealing with dress codes, on the job stress, talking about types of interpreting (who knew there were so many?!), and all sorts of other things. 

The topic I’m finding most pertinent right now is on the job stress.  A few weeks ago, I was in a work-type situation where there were a mixed group of Deaf and Hearing folks.  A very Audist gentleman was being a total A$$H*!@ to the Deaf folks, much more so than to any of the hearing.  He would spontaneously yell and reprimand people publicly.  I even once heard him say “I don’t care about Deaf Culture, I just want you to do it my way.”  I was not the interpreter in this situation (thank God!!)  but boy was I stressed!!  I think the worst thing for me was that this gentleman came into the situation spouting all the right stuff about Deaf Culture and Deaf rights.  It wasn’t that he didn’t know better.  it was just that, when push came to shove, he didn’t care.I was so stressed one night that – I’ll admit it – I went home and cried. 

In class, we’ve been talking about worse situations than the one I experienced, such as being the operator for a 911 VRS call, or having to tell someone in a hospital that their mother just died.  I’ve heard all this can wear on an interpreter until the experience what’s called Vicarious Trauma.  Don’t worry, I’m not re-thinking my desire to become an interpreter, I’m just thinking about all the tools I’ll need to handle this.

I have never handled stress very well.  My usual master plan is to go home and have a good cry, which frankly frightens my husband.  Crying is not a good strategy for stress management, at least not for me.  But what other tools can I use?  I’ll be pondering that as I take the rest of this course.  Along with everything else I’m learning.

ast year when it was so hard to get classes, my husband cheered me up with Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” (for a transcript, go here: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/TenWays/story?id=3675954&page=1 ).  Evidently, it is a tradition that college professors who know they will be dying give a last lecture on what matters most to them.  Randy’s was amazingly inspirational and has garnered him a bit of fame.  In it, he explains that obstacles are there for a reason: they let you prove how much you want things.

I must really want to be an ASL interpreter.  I went through another horrible week of being turned away at every class.  The worst part is, I didn’t get the class that’s the prerequisite to everything else.  If everything goes well in the future, it will now take me double the time I thought it would to graduate with an ASL degree.

I do have a backup plan.  I need a BA anyway, so I’ll transfer and go to a “real” school while I’m finishing up my AA in sign.  I just feel so defeated right now.  I’m at a school I hate, fighting an uphill battle, for absolutely no gain.  I am so tired of loosing the fight against the California State budget cuts.

I’ll cheer up in a little bit, I promise.  I’m not giving up.  After all, if I work hard enough this year my ASL should be AMAZING by the time I get into those interpreting classes.  It will make my journey easier in the long run, right?  Hopefully? Maybe?…

y new semester is supposed to start on February 22nd, and I can’t even register until February 1st.  I swapped schools because my old one didn’t have an ASL program, but I’m really missing it right now.  They had their act together, and the new school just really doesn’t.  Plus the people at the front desk in Admissions and Records are really rude. 

That’s OK, though, at least my department is amazing.  The people at the Linguistics front desk are incredibly nice and helpful, and I love that most of the teachers in the ASL department are deaf.  It makes me feel like I’m getting a better education, somehow. 

I’m expecting that getting classes will be just as excruciating as last time, but hoping that it won’t.  I guess I can take another semester of sitting in the back of the classroom with twenty other kids and praying for the teacher to decide to add me.  After all, even the measly 7 credits I took last semester got me one step closer to having a better registration date. 

On the up side, I’ve been looking over all my stuff and I think I’ll be ready to graduate in a year and a half!!!  That’s way less time than I thought I had.  When I was starting ASL 1, the ASL 4 kids seemed so in the know to me.  I never thought I’d get there, and here I am ready to register for it.  I guess time flies when you’re having fun.  I can’t wait for classes to start again!

ASLI guess you could finally say I’m an Interpreting student this week.  Yay!!  I’m only taking 2 of the 6 classes I was hoping to add, but that’s 2 more classes than I had last week.  Trying to add classes, though, was the worst thing ever.  Basically I stood in the back of classrooms for two hours with twenty other people who all wanted to add as well.  The teachers would say “Oh, I’ll talk to adds after class”, so we would all stand there with desperate looks on our faces, clutching our paperwork and praying that we’d be at the front of the add line, but the sinking feeling in our stomachs telling us we weren’t.  The day I was the person who was supposed to be next just as they cut off the class was the day I went home and cried.  That much rejection is hard to stomach, even when you know it isn’t personal.  I’m back to my cheery self this week, and I’m able to pick out the good things I experienced last week among the awfulness.

I really love my department.  The admissions staff and anyone who is supposed to be there to help students is awful and incredibly rude, but the ASL department is friendly and funny… just wonderful.  All of the teachers are Deaf and conducted major portions of their classes (if not all of it) in ASL, and I felt for the first time like I was a hearing girl in a completely Deaf world, not a hearing girl in a temporarily Deaf environment.  It was fun.  I’m also proud because I got all of the jokes and understood completely what everyone was saying, which makes me think my ASL skills are improving a little bit.  I’m in classes with people who are advanced interpreting students now, and I can also see how far I have to go.  It makes me believe that it’s possible to get that amazingly fluent though. 

I’m excited to be there, excited to call myself an interpreting student (no matter how far I have to go), and excited to be back in school working towards a degree.  I feel like I’m accomplishing something, and I’m happy that it’s something I like doing.  I’ll be doing a lot of work this year too, writing papers on 4 Deaf Events and 3 papers on doing different Deaf For The Day experiences.  I’m excited to do those.  Deaf For The Day is something I haven’t done yet, and I wonder how all my reading will prepare me for the experience of trying to communicate without talking.  I’ve heard that people are rude, but I guess I’ll be finding out for sure soon.  I’m hoping I’ll become less self concious about making a fool out of myself when proabably I won’t.  We’ll see.  I think it will be an exciting semester…

ASLI3 was hoping to be able to be an official ASL Interpreting student by now, but no such luck.  California State budget cuts have made my life incredibly difficult right now.  I started at a new school this semester, because the old one had ASL classes, but not an interpreting program.  My registration date dropped dramatically because of this and all the classes that I wanted to take were completely full by the time I was allowed to ask for them.  Boo!!

I go to a Community College in California, and the beauty of the Community Colleges is that they accept everyone… no matter what your past school performance was or whether you’ve even completed high school, they will let you take classes.  The other beautiful part (and the reason I’m going) is that they only charge $26 per credit.  The bad part about all of this is that every class is usually jam-packed full.  That was before the California State Budget  crisis.  This semester the Community Colleges are offering 1/3 less classes and a vast population of students haven’t been able to register the regular way.  Me being one of them. 

I’ve tried to be pro-active.  I e-mailed all my professors and asked them to add me if they have space, and several of them wrote me nice but non-commital e-mails back.  School starts Monday, so keep your fingers crossed for me.  I’ve gone a little crazy this summer, not being in school, and I hope I don’t have to suffer through another semester of that.   I shake my fist at the dysfunctional state constitution.

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asloK, I admit it.  I fingerspell when driving.  Sometimes I’m so involved in fingerspelling that I don’t realize that my car is no longer driving completely straight in my lane.  I always correct myself quickly, and no harm has ever come from this silly habit except for some mild embarrassment on my part.  I used to like to do the license plates because then I can practice both my letters and my numbers at the same time, but I don’t do that anymore.

It dawned on my recently that this solution of signing license plates isn’t very practical.  By signing the letters on a license plate, I’m learning how to think quickly when making the letters or numbers, but I’m not learning to spell actual words and my hands aren’t getting accustomed to switching between common letter combinations.  So I’ve come up with a different solution.

I googled”Most Popular American Names”, and I came up with a list of both last names and first names, and how often they’re used.  Not only did I learn that “Mary” is the most popular name for a woman in America,  but I also get to practice actual names in context.  It also has the added benefit of being something I can use later when (and if) I’m interpreting.  I figure I’m going to have to fingerspell a lot of names, and if I can already do the top 200 American Names quickly, I’ll be good to go for real life situations.  I carry the lists with me, and I practice whenever I have down time.  Sometimes people look at me strangely like I’m talking to myself or something (OK, maybe it’s because I am), but I consider that a casualty of learning to speak fluent ASL. 

As a side benefit, it’s also improved my driving habits.

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