Developed by ASL Flurry

Time Required for Activity:  60-90 mins

Competencies Address: 

    • Semantic equivalence
    • Comprehension:  ASL lexicon
    • Comprehension: ASL discourse
    • Production: English lexicon


Learners will:

  1. Demonstrate effective preparation procedures for an ASL to English interpreting assignment
  2. Interpret fingerspelling accurately
  3. Interpret spatial relationships accurately
  4. Interpret ASL referencing accurately
  5. Interpret ASL grammatical markers produced “above the nose” accurately
  6. Use a diverse range of vocabulary and accurate selection of English lexical items
  7. Recognize and consistently match the affect of the signer throughout the interpretation

This activity is the first in a series of two activities. You are encouraged to continue your work in the series when this activity is complete. Links to the next two activities can be found at the conclusion of this activity.

Video Synopsis

In this ASL narrative, Laurene Gallimore tells about her experience during a flood that occurred in Oregon in the 1996. This video was taken from Language Use in ASL, created by the Region X Interpreter Education Center at Western Oregon State College.

Part One: Prediction

There are three steps in preparing to interpret. Conduct research on:

Steps 1: Content

What happened? Where did this disaster take place? What towns were affected? What numbers or names might emerge? What were the contributing factors? What are some places in the area that may be significant to the Deaf community? Look on a map to see where some of these places are in relation to each other.

Presenter Background: Who is the presenter? (Hint: Laurene Gallimore is now Laurene Simms) Can you find any videos of the speaker that you can watch in advance to become accustomed to her signing style?

Remember to check your information with more than one source for accuracy.

Step 2:  English-Specific Words and Phrases

How do people who experienced the flood talk about it in English? What are key English words that are used when describing what happened? If you can, write down 10-20 words or phrases (salient linguistic features) that are specific to this event. Use the internet to determine how to pronounce unfamiliar words, names or places. Be sure you can accurately pronounce the presenter’s name.

Step 3: ASL prediction

How would you use ASL to describe the content you learned about in Step 1? How would you use ASL to discuss the the 10-20 phrases you identified in Step 2? If possible, share the story with a Deaf person you know, and ask them about a natural disaster they may have experienced or hope they never encounter. Pay attention to how they talk about the event as well as the ASL signs and phrases they use.

Step Two: Simultaneously Interpret

Interpret the Oregon Flood narrative cold, without watching it first. Prepare for the interpretation by getting centered. For example, you may want to take a deep breath, get calm and determined and ready to do your best. Visualize a hearing individual with whom you are comfortable. In your mind, your goal is to make sure that this person appreciates the story as much as someone who signs and would be as likely to want to meet the presenter.

For Deaf interpreting students, visualize the English-based consumer for whom you will interpret.

If you know the skill areas that you are working to improve, visualize yourself demonstrating those skills. You can do it!

Step Three: Assess your work

Transcribe your English interpretation

To accurately assess your work, first transcribe your English interpretation. In doing your transcription, note pauses, incomplete sentences, filler words/signs, and any other aspects of the spoken or signed work.  If you have access to GoReact, you can also upload the video of your interpretation into GoReact for assessment.

Assess your English

To translate your interpreting work into numerical data that you can use to assess improvement, first get some numbers to use in assessing your interpretation. By doing so, you can focus your attention on increasing the frequency of the patterns that you want, rather than reducing those that you don’t. You can assess your improvement in clarity, grammatical accuracy, and use of unnecessary filler words (or any other skill). To do so, first count the number of total English sentences in the transcription you created of your work.

Now, count the number of sentences that are:

    • Clear and accurate
    • Grammatically correct (not counting filler words at the beginning of a sentences)
    • Start with a word other than a filler word

For each category, you can determine the percentage of successful sentences by dividing the number of successful sentences by the number of total sentences. For example, if there are 50 sentences in the interpretation rendered, and 40 of them are clear and accurate, your percentage for the category is 80%. The percentage will give you a goal to exceed in subsequent interpreting work.

Fouls and penalties: Your focus thus far has been on successful sentences in your interpreting work. However, there are certain features of ineffective interpretation that are more severe than others. These are significantly disruptive or deceptive. These can be thought of as fouls in sports, and efforts should be made to eliminate them whenever possible to avoid penalties.

  • Failure to articulate clearly in a way that is easy for the audience to comprehend
  • Nonsensical sentences, sentence fragments, and random words or phrases
  • Apologies, announcements that you missed what was signed, self-criticisms, or swearing

Step Three: Assess your work

For this step, you have two choices:

  1. If you understood most of the Oregon Flood narrative and your interpretation was effective for the most part, record a second interpretation. This will give you an opportunity to render an improved interpretation while maintaining the challenge of multi-tasking (an essential component of simultaneous interpretation).
  2. If your first interpretation was less than effective, you may view the source text one more time to more fully comprehend the narrative before you record your second interpretation.

After recording your second interpretation, return to the source narrative and watch it again, making sure you understand as much as possible. If you can work with a friend or mentor, be sure to sign your discussion.

It is better to watch the video as many times as needed than to have someone provide you with the English wording. Becoming a fluent signer requires repeated exposure to excellent language models. This is extremely beneficial and a worthwhile use of your time. When viewing the narrative, pay special attention to who is doing what and who is saying what to whom. Are these indicated clearly in your interpretation?

Finally, give yourself a letter grade (A, B, or C) that represents the degree to which you matched the presenter’s affect at various points in the story, particularly the uncertainty, the intensity, the sarcasm and/or humor, and the sincerity that Laurene conveys in different parts of this narrative.

You can check your work in the next activity in this series, ASL depiction practice: Oregon flood. In the activity, you can analyze the meaning of the ASL depiction found in the source narrative.