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Taking place on the campus of Madonna University Saturday, October 27th students, interpreters and several members of the Deaf community moderately filled a rather large lecture hall for a 6 hour presentation on the inner workings of ASL interpretation. The Deaf presenter, Jimmy Beldon,  made it clear that CDIs (Certified Deaf Interpreters) can be useful in a variety of settings such as Deaf Blind Interpreting, Consecutive or Simultaneous Platform Interpreting, Medical Interpreting and Legal Interpreting as well as scenarios involving mental health or foreign signers. The differences between ASL and English discourse were described as well as various linguistic registers and the types and goals of communication. Jimmy also discussed what he called the seven identities of Deaf people and the six linguistic skills of Deaf adults and children which was to serve not as a method of stereotyping, but as a way for interpreters to identify ways to best match a Deaf consumer’s communication needs.

Jimmy Beldon is a native of Deaf Culture and ASL as well as a trained and certified Deaf Interpreter.  He served on the national board for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf for 8 years, and currently works as a Certified Deaf Interpreter and teaches at the St. Catherine University in the Interpreter Training Program on the St. Paul Campus in Minnesota.

Staff interpreters Colleen Rhinehart and Karen Jones, Interpreter Coordinator Lily Thompkins, and V.O.I.C.E. Inc Executive Director Tammy Scholl were all in attendance thanks to sponsorship from V.O.I.C.E. Inc.

September 14th and 15th V.O.I.C.E. Inc sent staff interpreters Colleen and Karen to the Trix Bruce workshop in Livonia.  Sponsored by My Hands Your Heart interpreting agency, we girls learned some valuable lessons in classifiers and had a lot of fun.

Patricia Bruce, called Trix by the Deaf community, is a fabulously talented performer and interpreter educator.  She travels the country sharing her knowledge of classifiers and storytelling techniques through entertaining performances and interpreter workshops.  Trix actively involves her audiences by asking for topics to lead her impromptu ABC and Number stories as well as to join her on stage where hilarity undoubtedly ensues.

Saturday’s workshop analyzed the details of classifiers.  Trix reviewed classifier hand shapes and provided lists upon lists of what they might be used to represent.  She also provided video of native signers telling stories and examined the details of their production with the audience. Participants were asked on several occasions to practice a minute detail and perform it for the audience; for example the flaring nostrils on a bull preparing to charge, or the personification of a microwave popping popcorn.

Trix’s workshop challenged its participants to think on a much more visual level and to take the time to consider the details of a story.  She was well received by her audience of interpreters and the Deaf community alike. Obviously enthusiastic about ASL linguistics, Trix was an extremely knowledgeable workshop presenter and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

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