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Enter to Win the Partners Interpreting StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta Giveaway!

Darlene Ensenat

Partners Interpreting and StreetLeverage are excited to announce that Darlene Ensenat is the winner of the StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta Giveaway.

Darlene Ensenat
Darlene Ensenat

Congratulation, Darlene!  We look forward to hosting you at the event next week.

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Partners Interpreting is going to send one lucky winner to Atlanta to enjoy StreetLeverage – Live April 26-28, 2013.

Entries will be accepted until April 18, 2013 at 5p ET.

Partners Interpreting is giving away a trip to StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta for one lucky winner. Winner will receive airfare, hotel accommodations and event registration (up to $1000). Note, if the winner has already registered for the event, StreetLeverage will refund 100% of their paid registration fee.

Winner will be announced right here on or about April 19, 2013.

Enter below for your chance to win a trip to StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta!

* No purchase necessary to enter or win. Any purchase or payment or support of any kind will not increase your chances of winning. See Official Rules for details. Odds of winning will depend on the total number of entries received. Online entry only and Internet connection required. Void where prohibited by law. Sweepstakes only open to legal residents of the fifty (50) U.S. or D.C., 21 years and older. Entry period begins at 4/6/2013 at 12:00 pm ET; ends at 5:00 p.m. ET on 4/18/2013. Total ARV for the prize package: $1000. Subject to full Official Rules. Sponsor: Partners Interpreting, LLC, 500 East Washington Street, Suite 34 N Attleboro, MA 02760.

Partners Interpreting




[Entries are no longer being accepted for the Partners Interpreting StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta Giveaway.]



StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta Giveaway (the “Sweepstakes”). How To Enter: Beginning April 6th, 2013 at 12:01 AM (ET) through April 18th, 2013 at 11:59 PM (ET) (the “Promotion Period”), go to (the “Website”) and complete and submit the entry form pursuant to the on-screen instructions. Winner Selection: On or about April 19th, 2011, one (1) potential winner (a “Winner”)will be selected in a random drawing from among all eligible entries received during the Promotion Period for the Sweepstakes.  Drawing will be conducted by Sponsor, whose decisions are final.  Odds of winning will depend upon the total number of eligible entries received during the Promotion Period.   Winner Notification: Winners will be notified via phone or e-mail, at Sponsor’s discretion, on or about April 19th, 2013.  Potential winner who does not respond within twenty four (24) hours of first attempted notification are deemed ineligible. Prizes & Approximate Retail Value: One (1) winner will receive a prize package consisting of: (i) airfare to Atlanta, GA (ARV: $550), two (2) nights hotel accommodations at Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center (ARV: $250), and a StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta event registration (ARV: $175) (collectively, the “Prize Package”). Approximate retail value (“ARV”) of the Prize Package is $1000. For Winner’s name, visit on April 19, 2013. Incomplete, misdirected, inaccurate, lost, late, delayed, or undelivered entry forms or entry forms that have been tampered with will be disqualified.

1. ENTRIES: Limit one (1) entry per person during the Promotional Period for the StreetLeverage – Live Giveaway. Entries using macro, robotic, script or other forms of automatic entry will be disqualified. Entries become the property of the Sponsor and will not be returned or acknowledged.  Proof of submission does not constitute proof of receipt. If there is a dispute as to the identity of an entrant, the prize will be awarded to the authorized account holder of the email address.  The “authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person to whom the email address is assigned by an Internet service provider, online service provider or other organization (e.g., business, education institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address.

2. ELIGIBILITY:  Entrants must be legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 21 years or older at time of entry.  Void in Puerto Rico and where prohibited by law.  Employees, officers, directors or agents of Sponsor, or their respective parents, affiliated entities and subsidiaries, participating advertising and promotion agencies (and members of their immediate family and/or those living in the same household of each such employee) are not eligible to enter or win.

3. CONDITIONS OF PARTICIPATION:  Online entrants must have a valid e-mail address and it is entrant’s responsibility to update Sponsor of any change in e-mail address.  Winner is solely responsible for any expenses not specifically included in the prize package description and any costs associated with the Sponsors purchase of prize package items exceeding $1000 collectively.  Sponsor is required to report the total Prize Package for the Winner to Internal Revenue Service so Winner will be required to provide his/her tax ID number as a condition of getting the Prize Package.  While Sponsor will report the value of the final Prize Package for the Winner to the Internal Revenue Service and  all of Winner’s tax liability incurred by acceptance of the Prize Package (or any portion thereof) are the sole responsibility of the Winner. The Prize Package is awarded “as is” with no warranty or guarantee, either expressed or implied outside of the respective limited warranties.  No transfer, assignment, or substitution of the Prize Package (or any portion thereof) is permitted, except Sponsor reserves the right, at its discretion, to substitute a prize for an item of equal or greater value in the event an item in the Prize Package is unavailable for any reason.  All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.  Entrants agree to the bound by the terms of these Official Rules and by the decisions of Sponsor, which are final and binding on all matters pertaining to this Sweepstakes.  Winners will each be required to sign and return an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability Release and where legally permissible a Publicity Release within forty eight (48) hours following the date of first attempted notification.  Failure to comply with this deadline may result in forfeiture of the Prize Package.  Return of any prize/prize notification as undeliverable may result in disqualification and selection of an alternate winner.  Acceptance of the Prize Package, or any portion thereof constitutes permission for Sponsor and its agencies to use the Winner’s name and/or likeness, biographical material and/or entry (including an altered from of the entry) for advertising and promotional purposes without addition compensation, unless prohibited by law.  By accepting the Prize Package, Winners agree to hold Sponsor, their advertising and promotion agencies and their respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, representative agents, successors, assigns, officers, directors, and employees harmless for any injury (including death) or damage to persons or property caused or claimed to be caused, directly or indirectly, by participation in the Sweepstakes (including the way in which Winners are selected), the delivery, acceptance, use or misuse of any of the prizes and/or claims based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy.  Sponsor is not responsible for any loss (financially or otherwise), injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from downloading any material from the Website, regardless of whether the material was prepared by Sponsor or a third party, and regardless of whether the material is connected to the Website by a hypertext link.  Sponsor will not assume any liability either for the cancellation, modification or premature conclusion of the Sweepstakes for any reason or through the acts or defaults of any company or person providing any prize.  All such losses or expenses must be borne by the affected participants and/or Winner.  Sponsor is not responsible for any printing, typographical, mechanical or other error in the printing of the offer, administration of the Sweepstakes or in the announcement of the prizes.

4. INTERNET:  Sponsor is not responsible for electronic transmission errors resulting in omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operations or transmission, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to or alterations of entry materials, or for technical, network, telephone equipment, electronic, computer, hardware or software malfunctions or limitations of any kind, or inaccurate transmissions of or failure to receive entry information by Sponsor or presenter on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Web site or any combination thereof.  If for any reason the Internet portion of the program is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes.  Sponsor reserves the right to select winners from eligible entries received as of the termination date.  Sponsor further reserves the right to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process.  Sponsor may prohibit an entrant from participating in a Sweepstakes if it determines that said entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes by cheating, hacking, deception or other unfair playing practices or intending to abuse, threaten or harass other entrants.  Caution: Any attempt by a participant to deliberately damage any Web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such participant to the fullest extent of the law.

5. DISPUTES/CHOICE OF LAW: Except where prohibited, each entrant agrees that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by state or federal courts situated in Atlanta, GA; (2) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, but in no event attorneys’ fees; (3) no punitive, incidental, special, consequential or other damages, including without limitation lost profits may be awarded (collectively, “Special Damages”); and (4) entrant hereby waives all rights to claim Special Damages and all rights to have such damages multiplied or increased.  Georgia State law, without reference to Georgia’s choice of law rules, governs the Sweepstakes and all aspects related thereto.

6. MISCELLANEOUS. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Official Rules or the Affidavit will not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any provision of the Official Rules or the Affidavit is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable or illegal, the other provisions will remain in effect and will be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or illegal provision were not contained herein. Sponsor’s failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules will not constitute a waiver of that provision. When terms such as “may” are used in these Official Rules, Sponsor has sole and absolute discretion. Entrants agree to waive any rights to claim ambiguity of these Official Rules. Headings are solely for convenience of reference and will not be deemed to affect in any manner the meaning or intent of the documents or any provision hereof. In the event there is a discrepancy or inconsistency between disclosures or other statements contained in any Sweepstakes-related materials, privacy policy or terms of use on the Website and/or the terms and conditions of the Official Rules, the Official Rules shall prevail, govern and control and the discrepancy will be resolved in Sponsor’s sole and absolute discretion.

7. SPONSOR:  The Sponsor of this Sweepstakes is Partners Interpreting, LLC, 500 East Washington Street, Suite 34 N Attleboro, MA 02760.

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Ethical Choices: Educational Sign Language Interpreters as Change Agents

Sign Language Interpreting in Art Class

Educational sign language interpreters often view their role as conduit or machine. Deaf children benefit when interpreters instead become agents of change, advocating for students and following their Deaf hearts.

I have the pleasure and challenge of working with educational sign language interpreters around the country: pleasure because I generally find these interpreters extremely committed to the best interests of students,  challenge because I generally find them frustrated by their work settings. Their experiences resonate with Gina Olivia’s post, Sign Language Interpreters in Mainstream Classrooms: Heartbroken and Gagged, which identifies that interpreters often witness the tragedy of ineffective education for deaf students, yet feel impotent to create change.

While there are plenty of issues in need of fixing related to Deaf education, our challenge as interpreters is to recognize what indeed we do have power over and use that as our classroom leverage to make a difference.

To do this, we need to step out of the shadow of invisibility and realize that, when we are at our best, we bring our full sense of humanity to the work. Part of that humanity is a Deaf heart, as described by Betty Colonomos in Sign Language Interpreters and the Quest for a Deaf Heart. I think of Deaf heart as a commitment to bringing the concerns and values of the larger Deaf community into mainstream settings.

From Machine to Human Being

My introduction to the Deaf community and interpreting came in 1988.  At my summer job, when I was 18, I encountered Deaf people, sign language, and interpreters for the first time. This was after the Deaf President Now movement at Gallaudet and the Deaf people I met felt empowered to act to change their world.

The message I heard about interpreters was exactly the opposite.  Interpreters, when they were functioning at their best, were invisible.  The “conduit” model reigned supreme.  I remember seeing a t-shirt that boasted: “Interpreting:  Just talk, it happens,” as if interpreters were some type of automaton.

In hindsight, the prevalence of the conduit model makes sense.  Interpreter education was greatly influenced by the ascendency of empowered bicultural and bilingual Deaf leaders who were not in need of help from hearing interpreters. Instead, these leaders simply wanted communication access.

What we have discovered is that, while an interpreter as a conduit has its usefulness, in many situations the results are negative.  In education, they have often been disastrous.  The silver lining is that some of our problems in the educational system are self-imposed and thus within our ability to rectify.

Anna Witter-Merrithew, in two previous posts, illustrates the negative impacts of interpreters functioning with the faulty notion that we can or should be “invisible.”  Further, Anna argues that we must be as concerned about ethical omissions as we are about commissions.  In other words, as professionals, we must practice due diligence in being aware of when our failure to act has negative consequences – just as much as monitoring the impact of our actions.

My article is a reflection on the ways we as a profession have failed to act in the educational system and the ways that we might re-envision our presence in classrooms and in schools to better serve the purposes of the students, the systems we are hired by, and ourselves as human beings interested in providing a meaningful contribution through our work.

Removing the Gag

In working with educational sign language interpreters around the country, I’ve encountered a recurring theme: that interpreters do not function in the role they think they should and regularly feel guilty about it. Frequently, I hear things like:

  • I “add” things to my interpretation because I know the student just won’t understand without it. I know that’s wrong, but it really seems to help. 
  • I sometimes help the hearing students during work time. The classroom teacher appreciates this support, but I know we shouldn’t.

When I respond not by questioning their actions but by asking whether or not their choices led to successful consequences, the interpreters are incredibly relieved to learn there is a framework for understanding their choices as ethical.  Further, I think they begin to see that no one else is asking them to cling to such a restrictive role.

Finding Role-Space

The profession as a whole is heading in this direction. Robyn Dean and Robert Pollard, through the Demand-Control schema, have moved us away from ethics based on the rightness of an action in itself and toward ethics based on the consequences for those involved.  They have also given us a continuum of ethical decision-making with a range of options from conservative to liberal.

In this context, “conservative” means taking a “wait and see” approach and “liberal” means taking a more active approach to addressing the demand.

Building on this, Witter-Merrithew, Johnson, and Nicodemus have begun a conversation about decision latitude and relational autonomy. As practice professionals, we need to take responsibility for making decisions with an understanding of how the systems we work in actually function. In the past, sign language interpreters often acted with disregard for the system and, as Johnson and Witter-Merrithew found, were perceived by others as being uncooperative and detached.  Interpreters may have acted in this manner thinking our codes of ethics and professional conduct required it, but the consequences were negative perceptions of interpreters.

Relational autonomy offers further insight to understand Dean and Pollard’s continuum of ethical behavior. We need to assess the relative autonomy of the people involved in the interaction as a guide for our decision-making. In general, if the participants have a balanced sense of autonomy, more conservative approaches are called for. If the level of autonomy between participants is imbalanced, liberal approaches merit greater consideration.

So, rather than seeking to be invisible, in situations with a power imbalance, interpreters need to seek to be more active and visible. Can you think of a situation where there is a greater power imbalance than when one deaf student is mainstreamed into a school that is totally designed for English-speaking students who cannot sign?

Taking more active approaches fits in with the work of Robert Lee and Peter Llewellyn-Jones, who have offered a new way of understanding our actions as interpreters.  Using three dimensions of interpreting (presentation of self, interaction management, and alignment with participants), they offer a framework for understanding the roles that interpreters inhabit and the way that different situations and different consumers call for different roles.  For interpreters working in schools, we clearly need to find a new role-space to lead to more success.

Interpreters as Change Agents

Part of redefining role-space includes the need to embrace a more active approach. At times, we are many things in the classroom:  interpreter, language model, tutor, aide, and consultant. We also need to be an agent of change within the system as a whole, which is part of what I think it means to have a Deaf heart: recognizing that the system is not designed to serve deaf students and that we cannot simply shrug our shoulders, wave our hands, and collect a paycheck. Instead, we need to take an active role in changing the situation.

Here are some examples of what that can look like:

  • Connect the student to the broader Deaf community.  This can happen by attending community events or, if not possible (as in many rural areas), use video and web resources to let students see there is a Deaf world that they can be a part of.  One interpreter in rural Alaska connected students via video and email with students at the Deaf school in Texas.
  • Enact roles based on the needs of students.  At times, we may need to be tutors or teachers or social guides. One interpreter I know has frequently taken on the task of teaching deaf students how to play games because they weren’t getting those skills any other way. In the shadow of invisibility, we might lament that teachers aren’t doing this and watch the students fail. As an agent of change, we can step forward and support the students in acquiring the requisite skills for success.
  • Facilitate sign language instruction for peers. Deaf kids need the chance to talk directly to their peers. We don’t necessarily have to be the teacher, but we can’t ignore the need. If you’re interested in a resource on this topic, you can check out this free curriculum.
  • Take responsibility for literacy. Educational interpreters need to understand the ways to foster language development in both ASL and English. This means intentionally being a language model through direct communication when appropriate.  It also means understanding the importance of fingerspelling in building English literacy.
  • Advocate for more accessible classrooms.  This includes creating excellent interpretations and making sure videos are captioned, but it goes far beyond that.  Work with teachers to ensure key vocabulary and concepts are visually accessible.  Additionally, support classroom teachers so that having an interpreter in the classroom is a benefit to all the students, rather than an annoyance. Too often, sign language interpreters with their restrictive role have been a thorn in the side of the teacher rather than an added asset in the classroom. Having a teacher who wants the deaf student to be there is a key factor in it being accessible.
  • Be part of a supervision process. Interpreters operate in isolation. As Robyn Dean argues in Ethical Development: A Sign of the Times for Sign Language Interpreters?, supervision that provides a framework for talking about our work is an important part of a practice profession and long overdue. Having a colleague or team to discuss these actions with is critical to ensuring that we maintain our effectiveness. 
  • Be willing to advocate ourselves out of a job.  Some of the best interpreters I know have advocated for students to leave mainstream and go to the Deaf school. While this may seem to be economic suicide for interpreters, I have seen that those professionals who so clearly put the interests of their consumers first end up landing on their feet because an educational system can recognize the value of that type of commitment. They also sleep better at night.

In the end, this approach to educational interpreting is a stretch from what I learned in my schooling. In other ways, it is a return to our roots.  Both Amy Williamson, in The Cost of Invisibility: Codas and the Sign Language Interpreting Profession, and Dennis Cokely, in Vanquished Native Voices – A Sign Language Interpreter Crisis?, write about the historical importance of codas to our field. That came home to me as I was leading a workshop on this topic and a participant with deaf parents said she felt like she had permission to be a coda again. What I perceived in her comment was that she could bring her Deaf heart into the mainstream. If we do likewise, our flexibility and willingness to act for change will lead to improvements for students, parents, teachers, the systems we work for, and even ourselves.

Other suggestions on how interpreters in educational settings can be change agents?