NCIEC conducted two focus groups of Deaf interpreting educators in December 2007. We invited Deaf interpreting educators to respond to an on-line survey and to participate in a professional discussion about some of the issues related to Deaf interpreting. This was one of many activities undertaken by the NCIEC Deaf Interpreting initiative to provide current evidence about Deaf interpreting and Deaf interpreting education practice in the United States.

Two focus groups were held, with six participants in each. One focus group was held in Los Angeles, California and another at Queens, NY. Each group included four educators who were Deaf. Two hearing interpreters in each group had experience co-teaching Deaf Interpreters. The participants represented diverse geographic locations in the United States and Canada.

How the Focus Groups were Conducted, Recorded and Analyzed
On-Line Survey Data

A total of twelve participants provided demographic data in addition to responding to several questions about the nature of their teaching, resources used to support their teaching, and their opinions about the top five knowledge and proficiency domains required for effective Deaf Interpreting.

Focus Groups Data

Members of the NCIEC Deaf Interpreting Work-team, Eileen Forestal and Patrick Boudreault, each facilitated one of the focus groups using a common set of stimulus questions and protocol devised by members of the work-team in consultation with NCIEC’s Effective Practices consultant. The focus groups were conducted in ASL and videotaped by Deaf technicians. In one case, the notes were transcribed during the discussions and later verified and fleshed out by the facilitator; in the other case, transcripts were created by a certified ASL-English interpreter from the videotape and verified by the facilitator.

An independent researcher, Dr. Debra Russell, was hired to analyze the data working from both the English transcriptions and the videotapes. Her findings, presented to the Deaf Interpreting Work-team, served as the basis for the report titled “Deaf Interpreting Current Practice: Findings of the Deaf Interpreter Educator Focus Groups Conducted December 2007.”

Outcomes and Findings of the Study
Participants examined Deaf interpreting practices, with a view of defining Deaf interpreting. In the end, however, there was no common definition that emerged across the discussions.
Participants identified that Deaf interpreters are providing exceptional services that are linguistically and culturally not possible for most non-deaf interpreters to offer.
They also explored the types and duration of learning events that are meaningful for Deaf interpreters and the top five knowledge and proficiency domains required for effective practice.
The participants also identified several aspects that need to be addressed if the field of Deaf interpreting is to continue to grow. See Needs Identified.

Based on the data analyzed for this report, next steps were explored that could be taken by the NCIEC. The next steps included working towards a common definition of the role of a Deaf interpreter, and to begin identifying the competencies needed for effective practice. As well, it was suggested that NCIEC explore a national approach to training Deaf interpreters in order to address the core competencies and provide a common curricula and set of training materials that could be delivered at several regional centers. In addition, there was support for NCIEC’s work with RID to address some of the challenges that appear to be barriers for Deaf Interpreters in achieving credentials. Finally, the participants identified the need for on-going research and suggestions have been made for potential research projects.

Review the full report: Findings of Deaf Interpreter educator focus groups conducted December 2007