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The history of American Sign Language interpreting education

Dissertation
Author: Carolyn Ball
Abstract:
The American Sign Language Interpreter education field has a rich history that is largely undocumented. Although other educational programs such as nursing and teaching have recorded histories, American Sign Language interpreter education in the United States does not. This study will provide a chronological history, drawn from the records of several organizations dating back as far as the eighteenth century, and information obtained during interviews with key practitioners. Ultimately, it will provide the profession of interpreter education a full review of the key theories and people, and the social, political and legal perspectives that have influenced the development of the interpreter education field. Recommendations for changes in curricular design are included.

v Table of Contents Acknowledgements iv List of Tables xi CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1 Statement of the Problem 2 Significance of the Research 3 Research Questions 3 Methodology 4 Dissertation Chapter Organization 9 CHAPTER 2. HISTORY OF INTERPRETING EDUCATION (1800-1900) 11 Gallaudet Sails to Europe 12 Gallaudet Meets Laurent Clerc 12 The Trip to America: Learning French Sign Language 13 The First Interpreter Trainer 13 The Impact of Clerc’s Speech 14 The First Federal Law: The Enabling Act 15 A Growing Need for Interpreters 15 CHAPTER 3. HISTORY OF INTERPRETING EDUCATION (1900-1960) 17 Dr. Lottie Riekhof 17 Validity Regarding Sign Language Training at CBI in 1948 18 College Bulletin Describes Sign Language Class 19 Formal Research of American Sign Language 20 Second Federal Law Passed 22

vi Vocational Rehabilitation Training for Deaf People 23 The Need for Trained Interpreters Expands 24 Summary 25 CHAPTER 4. HISTORY OF INTERPRETING EDUCATION (1960-1970) 26 The Babbidge Report 27 The First Workshop on Interpreting for the Deaf 29 The Secret Deaf Weapon 30 The Impact of VRA and Boyce Williams 32 Ball State Workshop Results: Training of Interpreters 33 Parameters of Interpreting Programs 34 The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf 35 Second Workshop on Interpreting & Education for the Deaf 35 Third Workshop on Interpreting for the Deaf 36 Fourth Workshop on Interpreting for the Deaf 37 A Program for Training Interpreters 38 Fifth Workshop on Interpreting for the Deaf 40 LTP Established a Conference for Interpreters 41 Interpreter Training Program Established at NTID 43 Summary 44 CHAPTER 5. HISTORY OF INTERPRETING EDUCATION (1970-1980) 46 Wisdom from JADARA in 1974 48 The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) 50 Screening of Students 50

vii Training 51 Curriculum 52 St. Paul Technical College (TVI) 53 Screening of Students 54 Training 55 Curriculum 55 The First Published Curriculum for Interpreter Training 56 Deafness Research & Training Center of New York University 58 Screening of Students 58 Training 59 Curriculum 60 California State University-Northridge 60 Screening of Students 60 Training 61 Curriculum 61 Gallaudet College 62 Screening of Students 62 Curriculum 62 Conference on the Preparation of Personnel in the Field of Interpreting 64 The Impact of Federal Legislation 65 The Impact of PL 94-142 on Deaf Children 67 The National Interpreter Training Consortium 68 Federal Aid for Interpreter Training Programs Continues 70

viii Training Provided for Interpreter Training Programs 71 Interpreter Training in the 1980’s 73 The Conference of Interpreter Trainers 76 First Board of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers 76 Summary 78 CHAPTER 6. HISTORY OF INTERPRETING EDUCATION (1980-1990) 80 Mission of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers 82 The Resource Guide of Interpreter Training Programs 1980 83 The Second Conference of Interpreter Trainers 84 The Third Conference of Interpreter Trainers 84 The Texas Interpreter Training Consortium 86 The Fourth Conference of Interpreter Trainers 87 Proposed End Product of Interpreter Program 89 The Fifth Conference of Interpreter Trainers 91 The Sixth Conference of Interpreter Trainers 92 Western Maryland Masters Program 93 The Seventh Conference of Interpreter Trainers 95 CIT/RID Program Assessment Package 96 1989 FIPSE Grant 98 Summary 100 CHAPTER 7. HISTORY OF INTERPRETING EDUCATION (1990-2006) 103 Lessons Learned From Pilot Study 113 CIT and RID Established Committees for Self-Study Process 113

ix CIT Board Established the Educational Standards Committee (ESC) 115 The ESC Established Plan to Recruit Programs for SSR 117 SSR Funding 119 CIT Board Immobilizes SSR Process 121 Confusion Regarding SSR 122 The ESC and the CIT Board had Philosophical Differences 122 CIT Membership Vote Regarding Continuation of SSR 124 CIT/ASLTA Taskforce 124 SSR Coordinator Hired 125 Establishing the CCIE 126 Contract Signed with the DO-IT Center 126 CIT Standards Committee and CCIE Joint Face-to-Face Meeting 128 The Reality of the CCIE 129 Summary 130 CHAPTER 8. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 131 Summary 131 Recommendations 132 Conclusion 134 REFERENCES 136 APPENDIX A: CIT NATIONAL CONVENTIONS 145 APPENDIX B: CIT ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP 1979-2006 146 APPENDIX C: HISTORY OF CIT BOARD MEMBERS 147

x List of Tables

Table 1: Historic Timeline of Interpreter Education Program Standards 106

1 CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION Interpreter educators are the products of a unique history,yet no comprehensive chronological record describes key theories and key players in the history of interpreter education. Although studying the past is not necessarily predictive of the future, it may provide a deeper understanding of the past and bring wisdom. For example, studying the history of the nursing profession provides a comprehensive documentation of information in terms of nursing politics, trends, and policies of the profession. This history provides nurses with a chronological record and recognition of key theories, as well as people who have influenced the nursing profession (Bullough & Bullough, 1984). The nursing profession has benefited from comprehensive documentation. First, nurses can look back, read nursing policies from the 1800s, and understand how current politics were influenced from the past. Second, nurses can understand these politics and their influence on nursing policies. Third, understanding the key players in nursing history in a chronological record provides a deeper awareness of the nursing profession. Another way to illustrate the importance of documenting a chronological record of key theories and players throughout history is illustrated in the story of Ms. Catharine Beecher who, in 1843, played a vital role in encouraging women to become teachers in a male-dominated profession (Dubline & Sklar, 2002). In the summer of 1843, Ms. Beecher traveled to New York City to visit a family who was sympathetic to her views that women needed to become teachers. Ms. Beecher also lectured all over the United States. Through these lectures, Ms. Beecher was

2 able to convince many women to become teachers and she also secured funding from the wealthiest people in each town. In fact, 35 women were inspired by Ms. Beecher’s lectures and chose to become teachers. These women left their homes in the east and moved to the west to teach. Ms. Beecher continued contact with these women through letters. Ms. Beecher kept these letters as historical documents and kept written copies of her formal speeches encouraging women to become teachers. Documenting a chronology of interpreter education and recognizing key theories and people is vital in understanding the important historical events of the discipline of American Sign Language interpreter education. In addition, those who teach interpreting can benefit from knowing how the practices of interpreter education were developed. A documented, chronological history of the interpreter education profession can provide the field with a valuable comprehensive study of the key theories and practices, key people, and key developments of interpreter education over time. This research can benefit the field by guiding future developments in interpreter education. It also provides a way to acknowledge people in the profession as well as the political laws that have influenced interpreter education.

Statement of the Problem This research documents the history of the interpreter education profession in a longitudinal manner and seeks to address the following problem: the field of interpreter education has no documentation to guide its future development. The problem will be addressed by seeking answers to the following questions. What have been the formational issues pertaining to this field? When was the first interpreter education program established? What social and political events and perspectives have influenced the development of this field? Who were the

3 key players in establishing the interpreter education profession? Can the result of this research guide future curricular development?

Significance of the Research The reason it is vital to understand and document the history of interpreter education is to illuminate practices that represent the best thinking of the times in which they were developed, even though ultimately they may not have been very useful. These faulty beginnings are delineated here in order to avoid the use of similar approaches in the future; it will also provide the basis for guiding interpreter education in the future. This historical data will provide documentation of the chronology of the profession, pivotal theories and key people who have influenced interpreter education, key events that have influenced the development of the interpreter education profession, and finally, state and federal laws that have influenced the development of the interpreter education profession. The lessons learned from documenting the history of American Sign Language interpreter education will be an invaluable resource for current and future interpreter educators.

Research Questions Four research questions will be addressed. They are as follows: 1. Who were the key people in the ASL interpreter education profession between 1900 and the present? 2. What were the key events that influenced the development of the interpreter education profession?

4 3. What are the state and federal laws that have influenced the field of interpreter education? 4. Can the results of this research guide future curricular development in the field of interpreter education?

Methodology The researcher documented the history of ASL interpreter education and provided a complete chronological history of events, key people, and federal laws that have influenced the interpreter education profession. The data was collected in the following manner through an extensive literature review and interviews. The data was documented in chronological order. If there were different written versions of the same events, they were noted by the researcher. A coding process was used to organize the historical documents in chronological order. Some decades have more information than others do, which the researcher noted. Each decade was organized chronologically and highlighted key people and important events in interpreter education. The researcher noted one of the first workshops on Interpreting for the Deaf on June 14- 7,1964. The proceedings from this meeting documented key people in the ASL interpreter education profession. The proceedings also documented key events from the first national workshop ever convened to develop guidelines for interpreting for the deaf. These proceedings provided the researcher with knowledge of how interpreter and interpreter education began. The researcher described the second workshop on interpreting, which was held at the Governor Baxter State School for the Deaf in Portland, Maine, July 7-27, 1965. The proceedings

5 from this workshop also documented the key people in the interpreter education profession. The key event which emerged from this workshop was the development of a manual to provide curriculum development for interpreter training programs. The researcher delineated a follow-up workshop after the Governor Baxter meeting, which was held in Washington, D.C. on January 28-29, 1965. This workshop’s function was to move the interpreting profession from its low profile to become a profession of prestige and increasing value. The workshop also outlined what may have been the first general discussion by key people who were interpreter trainers regarding curriculum and training ideas for interpreter education programs. The researcher documented a workshop, held in Washington, D.C. on March 28-30, 1972, which continued the focus of gaining knowledge and skills essential to interpreter education and curriculum for interpreter trainers. The researcher reviewed articles and convention proceedings from the Professionals Networking for Excellence in Service Delivery with Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (ADARA). These articles were found in the archives that covered the organization’s founding in 1960 to the present. ADARA was sponsored by vocational rehabilitation and published the Journal of Rehabilitation of the Deaf (JADARA) from 1968-1979. JADARA recorded the chronic shortage of interpreters in the United States and started a detailed chronological history of the first interpreter training programs. JADARA also provided detailed information of programs and the people involved in the National Interpreter Training Consortium (NITC), which played a seminal role in establishing interpreter-training programs in the United States. In 1974, the entire JADARA journal focused on interpreter education, documenting

6 programs that taught interpreters with a detailed description of the programs written by their current directors. The researcher contacted the National Technical Institute of Technology for the Deaf (NTID). NTID compiled a national index to help researchers locate articles, papers, publications, and information on interpreting, interpreting issues, sign language, Deaf studies, Deaf History, and other materials that were available or were no longer in print. Many of these out-of-prints were difficult to find, but NTID’s index provided a resource for finding these articles. The researcher consulted the Journal of Interpretation (JOI), which began in 1985 and continues to be published today. JOI included current literature and research about the interpreting profession and the skills needed to become a proficient interpreter. Although JOI did not specifically focus on interpreter education, it documented pertinent information regarding language and federal laws that influenced interpreter education, which in turn, had a significant influence on federal funding for interpreter education. The researcher reviewed minutes of the proceedings from the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT), which were first published in 1979 and continued to 2004, biannually. The CIT proceedings provided a chronological review of interpreting programs, research, key theories, and people that have influenced interpreter education. The researcher also reviewed the newsletters of the CIT beginning in 1986 to present. These newsletters provided a rich history of CIT. They documented issues surrounding interpreter training standards and the academic progress of the profession. Although the various contributing writer’s biases may have influenced the validity of the newsletters due to their religious background, they were one of the few written resources to draw upon for the

7 chronological history of interpreter education. In fact, the key theories and key people involved in the development of interpreter education were documented in each newsletter. Each newsletter contained a column written by the current president of the organization along with important information documenting curriculum ideas and key people in interpreter education. The researcher reviewed a grant proposal from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) written by CIT in 1989. This proposal, which was later given funds by FIPSE, provided a brief background of the interpreter education field and a description of its beginnings. The grant’s objectives focused on educational standards and, therefore, may have been limited in the scope of specific historical information. The focus of the FIPSE grant was not to document the history of interpreter education, but rather to seek funds to establish curriculum standards for interpreter training programs. Although there was a brief history of interpreter education in the grant proposal, the names of presidents of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers were different from those noted in the newsletters of the same organization. Therefore, the reliability of the historical information may or may not have been accurate. If there were two conflicting documents of the same event, an effort was made by the researcher to see if a living person could corroborate the facts. The researcher conducted interviews with four key people who were involved in the beginning of interpreter education. The researcher selected these four people because their names surfaced repeatedly in several of the documents and key events referred to in the history of interpreter education. The interviews were tailored to tap the expertise of each interviewee. The first four interviews included such interpreter education pioneers as: Dr. Lottie Riekehof from the Central Bible Institute in Springfield, MO; Ms. Betty Colonomos second president of the

8 Conference of Interpreter Trainers in Frederick, MD; Ms. Virginia Lee Hughes from the California State University at Northridge in Northridge, CA; and Ms. Anna Witter-Merithew co- founder of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers in Overland Park, KS. Many of the key events and traditions of ASL interpreter education have been orally transmitted. The researcher recognized the urgency of conducting interviews with those who had lived the history of interpreter education while many of the leaders who began the profession were still alive. Many were retired or near retirement age. Dr. Riekehof was the dean of women in the first interpreter-training program in 1948. Fant (1990) believes that Dr. Riekehof may have offered the first interpreter program, which was housed at the Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri. Dr. Riekehof was also instrumental in establishing RID in 1964. Interview questions were centered on methods of interpreter training at that time, which also revealed an understanding of the structure of the interpreter education field in 1948. Ms. Colonomos was the second president of the CIT. Questions from this interview sought clarification of the first board members that established CIT. The documentation from the CIT newsletters, FIPSE grant proposals and CIT website provided conflicting information regarding the first board members of CIT. Documenting the first board activity created an authoritative history of interpreter educators. Ms. Hughes was one of the original interpreter educators of the National Interpreter Training Consortium (NITC). Ms. Hughes also helped establish the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and provided insight into the events that were left out of the written reports in the 1960’s, as they may have omitted certain vital information.

9 Ms. Witter-Merithew was the co-founder of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) and formerly the Director of the National Technical Institute of Technology (NTID) interpreter program in Rochester, NY. NTID was one of the original programs in the NITC and perhaps the first interpreter-training program in the United States in 1969. Ms. Witter-Merithew’s involvement in interpreting and interpreter education was noteworthy because of her involvement in establishing the CIT and her historical knowledge of the key people involved. Ms. Witter-Merithew’s name was found in most of the documentation related to interpreting and interpreter education. Interviewing Ms. Witter-Merithew offered unique opportunities since she not only established CIT and retained a historical knowledge of the key people involved, but she was still involved in the interpreter education profession. Her insight was invaluable to the past, current and future trends of interpreter education. This combination of collecting data through document review and interviews provided the foundation for the study.

Dissertation Chapter Organization This dissertation consists of eight chapters. Chapter 1 provides the reader with an understanding of the importance of the research and the resources used in documenting the history of interpreter education. Chapters two through seven consist of a comprehensive chronological history of interpreter education. Each chapter highlights the key theories and key people that have influenced interpreter education. The chapters are organized as follows: chapter 2 (1800-1900), chapter 3 (1900-1960), chapter 4 (1960-1970), chapter 5 (1970-1980), chapter 6 (1980-1990), chapter 7 (1990-2006).

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Chapter 8 presented conclusions and recommendations for the field of interpreter education.

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CHAPTER 2. HISTORY OF INTERPRETING EDUCATION (1800-1900) To fully understand the role and importance of interpreting in the deaf community, it was important to first understand how its antecedents were rooted in deaf education. Laurent Clerc, who was deaf, and a non-deaf man and Reverend Thomas Gallaudet established the first residential school for the deaf in America in 1817. It is likely that Gallaudet served as an interpreter for Clerc in many formal and informal settings. The 1800s were largely shaped by the founding of deaf education. Two key players emerged, Laurent Clerc and Thomas Gallaudet. The first federal law was passed to promote deaf education and the need for interpreters was recognized. No formal documentation explains when the first deaf interpreting training programs started in the United States. However, there was documentation about the first interaction between a deaf man, Laurent Clerc and a non-deaf man, Reverend Thomas Gallaudet and how they established the first deaf school in America in 1817. For example, in 1816, Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell was the wealthy father of a deaf child named Alice Cogswell (Lane, 1984). Mr. Cogswell desperately yearned for his daughter, Alice, to be able to have an education similar to other non-deaf children. Dr. Cogswell requested that Gallaudet try to teach language to Alice. Gallaudet used a process of writing letters in the sand to teach Alice the alphabet and later, to read. During this era, the prevailing attitude regarding deaf education was negative. In fact, many people supported Aristotle who stated that if a child is born deaf they “become senseless and

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incapable of reason” (Gannon, 1981, p. XXV). In spite of this attitude people in the community were amazed that a deaf child could learn to read.

Gallaudet Sails to Europe Encouraged by the progress of Gallaudet teaching Alice, Cogswell employed Gallaudet to sail to England to investigate the methods used at the Braidwood School for the deaf. England was well known for their education of deaf children. They did not support using sign language to teach deaf children. Braidwood used a method referred to as oralism, which meant that children were forced to learn to speak. The Braidwood School for the deaf would not share their teaching strategies with Gallaudet. Despite Gallaudet’s discouragement, he continued his search for educating deaf children by going to France to meet with the deaf educator, Abbe Siccard. Siccard did not use the same method of teaching as the Braidwood School for the deaf. Siccard supported the use of French Sign Language and had published Instructions of Deaf and Dumb by Means of Methodical Signs (Gannon, 1981). This method of instruction used sign language to teach deaf children. During Gallaudet’s visit to France, he witnessed several deaf students who were from the deaf school in Paris. He was impressed with these students’ ability to discuss politics, math, art, and science in French Sign Language. Because Gallaudet was so impressed, he decided to stay with Siccard and be trained regarding education for deaf children using Siccard’s methods.

Gallaudet Meets Laurent Clerc During Gallaudet’s visit to the deaf school in France, he met Laurent Clerc, a deaf student who had graduated under Abbe Siccard’s teaching methods. At the time, Clerc was head of the very successful Paris Royal Institution for the Deaf (Lane, 1984, p.XXV). Gallaudet and

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Clerc became friends and had many discussions regarding methods of teaching deaf children. Gallaudet shared his dream of establishing a deaf school in America. Gallaudet believed in the methods of the school for the deaf in France and knew that he needed assistance to take these methods back to America. Gallaudet convinced Clerc to travel to America and help him establish a school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Clerc wrote in his journal that he wanted to go to America and help Gallaudet establish a school for the deaf (Cleve & Crouch, 1995). Clerc’s decision to come to America led to a life long friendship with Gallaudet that continued until Gallaudet’s death in 1851 (Krentz, 2000).

The Trip to America: Learning French Sign Language During the long journey to America, Clerc and Gallaudet discussed their plan to establish the first deaf school in America. The communication between the two men was very interesting. Clerc became deaf at the age of one and did not speak, but he could write well enough in English to communicate with Gallaudet. When they ventured out on their voyage, Clerc was not fluent in English, but over the month and a half on the voyage from France to America, he spent time with Gallaudet improving his written English. Gallaudet spent time learning conversational French Sign Language from Clerc.

The First Interpreter Trainer This event of teaching each other language may have been the first documented event of a deaf man teaching a hearing man how to sign. Hence, Gallaudet became Clerc’s interpreter to facilitate communication during the voyage to America. On the boat, Clerc and Gallaudet constantly worked together designing the plan to establish the first deaf school in America. The

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school that Clerc and Gallaudet established was called The Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons in Hartford and began classes on April 15, 1817 (Lane, 1984, p. 222). The Impact of Clerc’s Speech Clerc and Gallaudet set out not only to establish one deaf school in Connecticut but to also establish other deaf schools across the United States. Funding became critical, and an example of the fund raising process is found in a second documented event where Gallaudet interpreted for Clerc. First, Clerc wrote the addresses given to the audiences and Gallaudet read them aloud to the audience. Gallaudet may have functioned as the first interpreter between a deaf person and a hearing audience for fund raising. Second, Clerc and Gallaudet addressed the Governor of Connecticut and both houses of the legislators. Clerc wrote the speeches that would be presented to this audience and Gallaudet read them aloud to the audience. As recorded by the Connecticut legislation in 1818, The following address is entirely the original production of Mr. Laurent Clerc, who was born Deaf, and has never heard a sound or uttered the simplest phrase of speech. He was eight years a pupil of the celebrated Abbe Sicard, who now presides over the Royal Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Paris, in which Mr. Clerc has been eight years a teacher. The Connecticut Asylum for the relief of these children of misfortune, held a public examination of the pupils on the 28 th of May, and at the request of the Directors, Mr. Clerc prepared this address, which was delivered by his friend Mr. Gallaudet, who takes this mode of informing those who may peruse it, that a very few alterations have been made in some idiomatic expressions, but nothing which can affect the originality of its thought, language or style. (Clerc, 1818, p. 2)

The governor and legislators were very impressed by the speeches from Clerc and Gallaudet. The government gave their full support to the Connecticut Asylum. Additionally, Clerc and

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Gallaudet wanted to gain support from the United States Congress and Senate (Krentz, 2000). As usual, Clerc wrote the address that was to be delivered. However, that morning Gallaudet became quite ill and was unable to attend the event. In his place, Gallaudet sent Henry Hudson to facilitate communication. Clerc addressed the President, Senate and Congress of the United States in sign language. This was the first documented time that a deaf person had addressed these bodies of government directly using sign language. While Clerc signed to them, Henry Hudson spoke the words so the President and the Senators could hear and understand what Clerc was saying. When Clerc concluded his address, the chambers were silent out of respect for him. In response to Clerc’s address funds were bestowed to them for the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb (Krentz, 2000).

The First Federal Law: The Enabling Act Clerc worked for forty-seven years to continue his dream to establish deaf schools in America. Clerc witnessed in 1864 President Abraham Lincoln signing the Enabling Act. This Act gave the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind the authority to confer college degrees. This was the first college in the world expressly established for people with disabilities. A year later, the institution’s blind students were transferred to the Maryland Institution at Baltimore, leaving the Columbia Institution with a student body made up entirely of deaf students. The institution would eventually be renamed Gallaudet College and then Gallaudet University (Federal Transit Administration Civil Rights & Accessibility). A Growing Need for Interpreters During the inauguration speeches of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind educators attested to the fact that soon there would be deaf lawyers, statesmen, ministers of

Full document contains 176 pages
Abstract: The American Sign Language Interpreter education field has a rich history that is largely undocumented. Although other educational programs such as nursing and teaching have recorded histories, American Sign Language interpreter education in the United States does not. This study will provide a chronological history, drawn from the records of several organizations dating back as far as the eighteenth century, and information obtained during interviews with key practitioners. Ultimately, it will provide the profession of interpreter education a full review of the key theories and people, and the social, political and legal perspectives that have influenced the development of the interpreter education field. Recommendations for changes in curricular design are included.