In this video, Egina and Jimmy discuss the birth of their first child.  (This video comes from All in Due Time:  Perspectives on Childbirth from Deaf Parents.)


  • to create an English interpretation with semantic equivalence for an ASL conversation;
  • to included fingerspelled items in an English interpretation


This activity will take approximately 40 minutes to complete.

Directions for Practice:

Follow the steps below for the activity.


Spend a  minute thinking about what Egina and Jimmy Beldon might talk about. Think both about the terms and content, as well as how a discussion might go between a married couple with 5 children.

Interpret the ASL Conversation

The text is 12:18 long.

For hearing interpreters:  Record your spoken English interpretation onto video or an audio file.  If using video, have the camera pointed toward the screen to assist you in your self-assessment.  This will also allow for assessment of processing time used during different segments of the interpretation.

For deaf interpreters:  You may want to focus on either relaying the original ASL or practice signing the message in a more English like fashion.

Checking Your Work

Use the following summary to check your own work and ensure that your practice is on track.  Recognize that this is a summary, not an interpretation, and it is designed simply as a support in checking your own work.

The First Delivery

Jimmy and Egina have 5 children, between 1- 8 years old. Egina explains that they have 3 girls (one of whom is hearing) and 2 boys. Jimmy clarifies the birth order and gender of the kids, explaining that Egina “lost count” of which child is which (understandable error!).

Egina always knew she wanted children. When she and Jimmy married, they planned to wait 2 years before starting a family. They became pregnant on their honeymoon (an “oops” baby, as Jimmy calls it). Egina was worried about what they would do. After Jimmy reminded her that they were married (so having a baby was ok), they started to get excited about the idea of having a baby. Egina was a bit worried about the fact that this was not what they had planned, but Jimmy encouraged her to think positively and that they would be ok.

Egina wanted a female ob-gyn and asked around for some recommendations. When she went to a clinic she’d heard about, they said they had 5 doctors. She was so inexperienced at the time that she thought they meant she’d have to go to 5 different doctors. They found an interpreter who the Beldons happened to know because her husband was deaf. The interpreter didn’t have experience interpreting for a birth, but they didn’t mind. Jimmy and Egina went to their first appointment ready with a “birth plan”. They’d read a book that encouraged them to think about what they wanted to happen during delivery; Jimmy wanted to cut the cord, actually deliver the baby, and Egina wanted a natural birth. When they presented their plan to the doctor, they did not get a good reaction. The doctor said Jimmy couldn’t cut the cord or delivery the baby because of liability issues. Egina and Jimmy didn’t have any experience with all this, but the book they read was written by a doctor and they had heard from other sources that what they wanted should be just fine. They were totally put off by the doctor’s response to their requests, but because they were so inexperienced, they went ahead with her anyway.

Egina was past due. Although she was at 41 weeks, they read that it was ok to go to 42 weeks. Instead, the doctor insisted they induce at 41 weeks. Both Egina and Jimmy had no real idea what they were doing or what to expect, given it was their first time, but they were very excited. They went to the hospital early in the morning, with both their mothers in tow. They also called Jimmy’s sister, who had interpreted for several births. She told them that the IV would start the contractions right away and that they would be fast and hard. The IV drip started…and the contractions didn’t. Egina remembers how the nurses were betting on how long the process would actually take. Both of them were so energized and excited – ready for the delivery. Jimmy was in his scrubs and set to go….and nothing happened. Time went by without any contractions starting at all.

They gave her a second dose and the contractions started at last. Jimmy did his best to do everything they’d learned in Lamaze class. He tried to get their breathing in sync, counting the breaths through the contractions. Both their mothers were in the room with them (it was a big room) and monitoring everything as it happened. Egina wasn’t experiencing any pain at that point. Jimmy, however, would get distracted and lose count and Egina would have to whack him to bring him back to her and the work ahead. It was crazy – first time through it, managing the breathing, hyperventilating…talking to the parents – just really wild.

Finally, Egina just couldn’t take it any more. She abandoned the whole idea of a natural birth and called for the doctor to give her an epidural. By this time, the whole day had passed and they were well into the night. Now, because Egina had planned for a natural birth, she really had not looked into what an epidural entailed. They told her to bend over; that she would have a shot in her back and that she could not move. For hours and hours she’d been experiencing contractions and not able to be still one moment and suddenly she was expected to not move at all while still experiencing contractions. She was paranoid that they would somehow paralyze her, so she held it together but was sweating buckets and hanging on by the skin of her teeth during the shot. Jimmy remembers how the monitors spiked while it was happening. Egina didn’t even feel the needle because the pain of the contractions was much worse. She remembers wanting the pain to go away as soon as they were done. It took a bit, but finally the pain of the contractions subsided.

Suddenly, Egina became happy and smiling – a total 180 degree change from her mood before the shot. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (according to her mother). Labor continued through the night until about 4:21 in the morning. Jimmy says that they remember the time because their doctor was finishing her shift and had suggested a c-section because the baby’s heartbeat dropped at one point. It was a very emotional moment for them because they had hoped for a regular delivery.

Jimmy picks up the story from there because Egina doesn’t remember a lot about it because she was doped up. He remembers how they strapped Egina on the bed with both arms out (like Jesus on the cross) and put a huge drape in place so he couldn’t really even see her face when he was standing by her feet. All she could do was stare at the ceiling – she could barely even sign because her arms were strapped down.

Jimmy watched while the made the incision (through several layers of fat, he says…and gets nudged from Egina in reply). While Jimmy watched the two doctors working on her, Egina was totally oblivious to how vigorously they jostled her abdomen. They were very casual about the whole thing, chatting about their kids while they worked. The interpreter was interpreting everything to Jimmy who wanted them to knock it off and pay attention to what they were doing! After a bit of tussling, out popped the baby’s head, just like in “Alien”. Jimmy was reporting all of this to Egina who wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl. He told her to wait a sec and finally they got the baby out, turned it around and he could tell her it was a girl.

From that moment on, Jimmy said goodbye to Egina and turned his attention totally to their baby. He followed her into the other room where they checked her over and gave her a bath. He’d heard stories of babies getting accidentally swapped in hospitals and he wanted to make darn sure to keep his baby in his sights. He tried to memorize her face while they were working on her – just in case. The doctors stitched up Egina while Jimmy was doing all this and then Jimmy brought the baby back in to her.

For Egina, everything was just turning out to be not at all what she expected. Because she couldn’t sign, she was forced to talk in order to communicate with the interpreter. Then the interpreter went off with Jimmy and the baby, which was fine, but it left her stuck there alone, strapped to the bed. So there she was thinking about her experience– she hadn’t given birth naturally, she was all alone, she hadn’t held her baby yet, and she was stuck waiting to find out if the baby was healthy or not.

A nurse did come in to talk to her somewhere along the way, but without the interpreter, so Egina really didn’t know for sure how the baby was. While she was in recovery, she started to shiver and felt freezing cold. She was shaking, clutching warm blankets around her, barely able to communicate and just dying to see the baby. Staff people came and went but she just didn’t care – only wanting to see her baby! Finally, they brought the baby to her and she held her at last and just burst into tears.

The next day, the baby had a hearing screening. They remember the doctor coming in with a somber face (with an interpreter) and telling them that unfortunately, their child did not pass the hearing test. The doc was surprised when both of them shouted for joy at the news. It took a minute for the doctor to realize that to them, of course, it would be good news that their child was deaf like them! Even with that, the doctor asked them (in all seriousness) if they knew how to raise a deaf child! What an idiotic question!

Re-Interpret the ASL Conversation

To strengthen your learning, wait at least a day.  Without looking at notes or the summary, try to re-call as much as you can about the ASL text.  Then proceed to re-do the interpretation.

The text is 12:18 long.

For hearing interpreters:  Record your spoken English interpretation onto video or an audio file.  If using video, have the camera pointed toward the screen to assist you in your self-assessment.  This will also allow for assessment of processing time used during different segments of the interpretation.

For deaf interpreters:  You may want to focus on either relaying the original ASL or practice signing the message in a more English like fashion.