KEYNOTE PRESENTERS

Laurene Simms.png

Dr. Laurene Simms

Laurene E. Simms is Professor of the Department of Education at Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. After graduating from the Indiana School for the Deaf, Indianapolis, Indiana, she received a B.S. Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and a M.Ed. in Deaf Education from Western Maryland College, Westminster, Maryland. She received a Ph.D. Degree in Language, Reading, and Culture from the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.  As an ASL and English Bilingual Education consultant and a former elementary teacher, Laurene has hands-on experience in the implementation of a bilingual and multicultural educational environment for diverse Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and is an acknowledged expert on the topic of using ASL and English as the languages of instruction.

Octavian Robinson.png

Dr. Octavian Robinson

 Dr. Octavian E. Robinson is professor of American Sign Language, Interpreting Studies, and Communication Equity at St. Catherine University. He has chapters in three collections from Gallaudet University Press in addition to published work with Sage Publications,Sign Language Studies, Disability & Society, andDisability Studies Quarterly. His research interests lie in intracommunity marginalization, respectability politics in the deaf community, linguistic human rights, and disability justice. He holds a Ph.D. in History from The Ohio State University.

MJ Bienvenu.png

Dr. MJ Bienvenu

 A native ASL signer, originally from Baton Rouge, LA, MJ Bienvenu received her BA in English and MA in Linguistics from Gallaudet in 1974 and 1983, respectively.  She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics specializing in Lexicography from Union Institute and University in 2003. She worked at Gallaudet in various departments; including Linguistics Research Lab and Department of English, for a total of 11 years.  She then moved to be a co-director of The Bicultural Center for 7 years.  She later became a director of Language and Culture Center for 3 years before she returned to Gallaudet and is now professor in the Department of ASL and Deaf Studies.  She is also a co-coordinator for MA in Sign Language Education. MJ was a sign model for the “Green Books” and was a trailblazer in ASL instruction, beginning in 1977. In addition to teaching, MJ has presented workshops and served as plenary speaker on topics related to ASL, culture, empowerment, interpretation, and Deaf people and various -isms. She was co-author of several videos on ASL numbers and facial grammar. She is also one of pioneers as a Deaf interpreter at major conferences and rallies. MJ was an active member of SIGN, before it transformed to ASLTA. She was a certified teacher with both SIGN and ASLTA. Unfortunately, her certification in ASL teaching had lapsed, after she began teaching Deaf students at Gallaudet. On a personal level, MJ enjoys reading, traveling, and being at home with furry kids.