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American Annals of the Deaf

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Service Learning in Interpreter Education: Strategies for Extending Student Involvement in the Deaf Community

Sherry Shaw

Janice Humphrey

As a young interpreter, I was baptized with a love of and an appreciation for ASL and Deaf culture and blessed by the informal mentoring and guidance of the members of the Deaf community. Many with backgrounds like mine were the pioneers of interpreter education, and they have long been concerned about the loss of this critical relationship between emerging interpreters and Deaf community members.

In this text, Dr. Sherry Shaw paints a vivid picture of the history, evolution, and impact of service learning in interpreter education programs. Joining Dr. Shaw in this effort are graduate and undergraduate interpreting students, various members of the Deaf community, and other faculty members who have been involved in this important form of community-based learning, which brings renewed hope to all of us. It is evident that when done well, service learning can be a life-changing experience for everyone involved. Further, it can be a significant step in putting the “Deaf heart” back into the practice of interpreting.

Of particular help to instructors is the framework the author constructs with regard to preparing students for the challenges ahead and facilitating relationships with Deaf organizations and/or Deaf community members in ways that put “feet” into the concept of becoming allies. The goal of service learning is to create a partnership between students and Deaf community members to accomplish something the community has identified as a need. All of this is facilitated by Deaf leaders and enhanced by the students with the goal of helping the project take on life and continue after the students have stepped aside.

As a teacher of service learning, I am deeply grateful for Dr. Shaw’s work in this area and believe this textbook is a significant contribution to our field. As an interpreter for fifty years and a teacher for almost as long, I am profoundly encouraged by this approach, which reinstates the critical element of Deaf community leadership as an integral component of interpreter education.

Janice Humphrey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Exceptional, Deaf, and Interpreter Education at the University of North Florida.