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  4. “Dear White Interpreters”*: Perspectives from Deaf Interpreters of Color

Module Dates: February 1-26 and April 19-May 28, 2021

Please note: Participants have been selected for February and April courses.

While the interpreting profession is currently made up of predominantly white people, Deaf communities are increasingly populated by People of Color(PoC). This module shares and explores the insights from 11 Deaf interpreters of color. They explore a variety of questions that provide insight for White interpreters, both Deaf and hearing. Additionally, they share advice for fellow interpreters of color. After viewing this recorded discussion, participants will reflect on the insights shared.  

Lead facilitators, Dr. Suzette Garay, Christopher Robinson, and supporting facilitator, Jennifer Gibbons, will work with participants to develop self and worldview awareness. Through these discussions, participants reflect and consider how to be more effective while interpreting in communities with Deaf People of Color. As well, participants discuss interpreting in complex settings such as those impacted by issues of intersectionality, racial identity, and behavioral health. Participants will expand their options for interpreting more effectively with a variety of individuals.  

Module requirements include:

  • Post reflections in each of the 10 discussion forums and reply to at least one other person’s comments.  
  • Participation in Zoom discussion meetings is required.
  • If your schedule does not allow you to attend the Zoom meetings, it will be recorded and you can watch it and then post a reflection in a discussion board.  
  • Complete pre and post-evaluation form.

Time commitment

This module takes up about an average of 8 hours. There will be at least two Zoom meetings. Facilitators will notify of additional Zoom meetings.  All work must be completed by 11:59pm on the last day of the course. No extensions will be offered. See Course Outline below for an overview of the course.

Technology requirements

Modules are offered through Canvas online learning management system.

  • You must have high-speed internet access and a tablet or computer that supports:
  • Ability to work online and type or video record discussion posts.
  • Ability to record videos.
  • Ability to upload videos to YouTube for sharing with others in Canvas.
  • Ability to access streamed video content.

Module costs? Free

How to access Dear White Interpreters: Perspectives from Deaf Interpreters of Color

Selected participants will receive an email invitation to join the course from Instructure Canvas one week prior to the start date.

TIP: Add notifications@instructure.com to your contacts, so your invitation doesn’t end up in your spam folder.

Follow the prompts to join the course. It’s easy! (Just remember to write down your password!)

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Cancellations must be in writing to CATIE Center.


RID CMP and ACET logo St. Catherine University is a RID-approved sponsor for continuing education units. Participants who complete all required assignments may earn .8 CEUs.

CEUs will be posted to transcripts on March 19 for the Feb group and June 18 for the April/May group.

Course Facilitator

Dr. Garay

I am a third generational Latina(x) from South America, Nicaragua, and a third member of my family who was born Deaf.  I hold several degrees including a Ph.D. My major areas of studies are Special Education with an emphasis on Deafness and Learning Disabilities, Psychology, and teaching of American Sign Language.  I am currently an Educational Psychologist and teach online psychology courses and sign language courses at Waukesha Technical College in Wisconsin. I also own private practice working with many families, individuals, and private business owners about interpreting, accessibility, diversity, and advocacy with diverse DHH consumers.  I also have taught many distance education courses and workshops about Diversity, ASL linguistics, Special education, and other disabilities issues throughout the Midwest and internationally. When not teaching, I travel as a motivational speaker and personally enjoy working with very young children with disabilities and their families.

Christopher Robinson

I joined Boston University as the Staff ASL/English Interpreter in 2005 and I went on to become the Coordinator of Outreach & Training of Disability & Access Services (DAS) in 2013. I’ve practiced as a Performing Arts ASL/English Interpreter since 1994. Much of my work as an Interpreter has been influenced by my conversations with the late playwright August Wilson. When not interpreting, you may find me on a stage or on television as an actor.

I’ve brought over 25 years of experience to my mentoring work as an ASL/English Interpreter and as a national presenter in the content areas of inclusion-practices in the Performing Arts, Mentorship for Interpreters, and Cross-Cultural Mediation within Deaf and hearing communities.

In 2001, I entered the Conference Interpreter Mentorship Program (CIMP), a collaborative project with the then Northeastern University Interpreter Education Project and Boston University Center for Interpreter Education (BUCIE). Upon completion of the program in 2003, I became the coordinator of the program until 2006. From the Fall of 2007 to the Fall of 2008, I co-lead a training series for the Gallaudet University Regional Interpreter Education Center (GUREIC) Interpreter Mentoring Project. From 2017-2018, I became a program advisor and the lead facilitator for the Community of Practice for ASL/English Interpreters for the College of St. Catherine’s Graduation to Certification (GtC) I find great joy in being Certified Facilitator in the LEGO® Serious Play™methodology where I organize facilitated discussions sessions to adjust post-secondary student-group programming practices and mitigate program barriers that obstruct the participation of persons with disabilities in campus life.

Jennifer Gibbons, supporting facilitator

Jennifer received her Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies and Communication Equity from St. Catherine’s University in 2019. She is a deaf parented heritage language ASL user with over 15 years of professional interpreting experience in a variety of settings, from academic institutions to grassroots pro bono work.

Jen is committed to deconstructing white supremacy in the interpreting field, in part through her role as a mentor to interpreters across the state of Massachusetts. Her goal is to unpack her whiteness and hearing privilege while working to center the deaf experience in interpreter training and education. She strives to operate from an intersectional framework in every aspect of her interpreting and mentoring work as she continues the never-ending journey of anti-racism work within the interpreting field.

Course Outline

Successful participants will be able to:

  • Define frequently used terms such as BIPoC.
  • List 3 examples of microaggressions that Deaf interpreters of color often experience.
  • Describe 3 signs from communities of color that are frequently misunderstood and misused.
  • Articulate rationale for when to accept and/or decline assignments working in communities of color in general or when also impacted by issues of behavioral health.
  • Explain 3 benefits for Deaf People of Color being able to work with interpreters of color.


? Read Welcome
? Read workshop description, objectives and origin
? View Workshop Checklist
? Read a Note from Your Facilitators
? View FAQs and Help
? Read CEU/Certificate of Completion Information
? Complete pre-assessment
? Read Do’s and Don’ts Document

Week 1

? Topic 1: View Panel & Facilitator Introductions
Introduction via Zoom opportunity: First day of the course
Post Introduction & Suggestion for Interaction Guideline
Respond to at least one other person’s introduction
? Topic 2: View Video segment on “Meaning of BIPOC”
Post in Discussion 2:  Interpreting in Settings with Black Signing
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 2
? Topic 3: View Video segment on “Signing BLACK”
Post in Discussion 3:  Thinking about assumptions and impact
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 3

Week 2

? Topic 4: View Video segment on “‘Misused’ Signs”
Post in Discussion 4:  “Misused” signs
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 4
? Topic 5: View Video segment on “Advice for White Interpreters”
Post in Discussion 5:  Advice for White Interpreters
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 5
? Topic 6: View Video segment on “‘Microaggressions”
Post in Discussion 6:  Microaggressions
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 6

Week 3

? Topic 7: View Video segment on “‘Causing Harm”
Post in Discussion 7:  Causing Harm
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 7
? Topic 8: View Video segment on “‘Causing Harm”
Post in Discussion 8:  Accepting Assignments
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 8
? Topic 9: View Video segment on “‘Advice for Interpreters of Color”
Post in Discussion 9:  Advice for Interpreters of Color
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 9

Week 4

? Topic 10: View Video segment on “Wrapping Up”
Post in Discussion 10:  Wrapping Up
Respond to at least one other person in Discussion 10
Topic 11: Live Zoom meeting
Attend Zoom Meeting: Last day of the course
Respond to at least one other person in discussion
Complete Evaluation and CEU form
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Origins of this Module
The module, “Dear White Interpreters,” was developed as a follow up to a recorded panel discussion that was part of the Graduation to Certification program’s efforts to create resources for supporting novice Deaf interpreters.  Based on needs identified by our consultant, Naomi Sheneman, a panel of deaf people of color who work as interpreters were convened to address a list of questions and share their perspectives.  Based on the discussion and input from the moderator, this panel discussion was titled “Dear White Interpreters”:  Perspectives from Deaf People of Color.”  When this video was released on the CATIE Center’s YouTube channel, it received over 2,500 views, by far the most of any of our videos.  However, the average view time was only a little over 8 minutes.
The CATIE Center decided to offer a facilitated module through our Behavioral Health Interpreting (BHI) project to engage people with the video and the perspectives it contains because we believe they will be helpful for interpreters who are working with diverse communities in behavioral health settings.

*Jerrin George, who was the facilitator for the original conversation with Deaf Interpreters of Color, used the phrase “Dear White Interpreters” as a way to frame the conversation.  Our use of the title for this module is intended to show respect for those involved in the conversation and the ways they choose to share their insights and perspectives. 

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