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Investigating the Impact of ASL Proficiency Levels on ASL-English Interpretation

The purpose of this study was to investigate how selected language features in signers who have varying levels of ASL proficiency may impact the target English output of novice ASL-English interpreters. Sociolinguistic studies have documented language variation that occurs within the American Deaf communities. Further, due to language contact between English and ASL, signers demonstrate varying proficiency in ASL. In this study, I examined video recordings of individuals who have taken the ASL Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) at Gallaudet University. I examined two linguistic features in signers – depiction and fingerspelling. I compared the similarities and differences in the ASL to English interpretation of novice interpreters who render the same ASL source material. A total of six source texts with various levels of ASL proficiency were used during the interpreting process. The interpreted data was analyzed using two approaches, a propositional accuracy measure and a subjective quality measure. The outcome of this analyze was to provide insights how ASL signers are understood by novice ASL-English interpreters and to pinpoint the probable miscues in the interpretations that can be helpful to interpreter education programs.

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Keith Gamache Jr

Keith Gamache Jr

Keith Gamache, Jr. (KJ), has taught courses in ASL, Deaf Studies, and Interpreting for more than twenty years. He earned his PhD in Interpretation at Gallaudet University with an emphasis on researching interpreted work through Deaf lens. He maintains a professional ASLTA certification and a CDI certification. He has given numerous lectures and workshops all over the country. In addition, he wants to support the working collaboration between ASL and Interpreting educators to improve the quality of interpreting education programs. He is currently an ASL program coordinator at Irvine Valley College in Irvine, CA.