A woman with light brown skin and dark brown long hair wearing a grey suit coat stands in front of a light grey background and speaks.Developed by ASL Flurry 

Competencies Addressed:

  • message coherence
  • depiction in ASL
  • Use of Classifiers
    • semantic classifiers (Taylor, 2017: 4.2)
    • descriptive classifiers (Taylor, 2017: 4.3)
    • locative classifiers (Taylor, 2017: 4.4)
    • body and body part classifiers (Taylor, 2017: 4.5)
    • instrument and tool classifiers (Taylor, 2017: 4.6)
  • Interpreting
    • Reflect speaker’s attitudes, preferences, and emotions (Taylor, 2017: 7.5)
    • Maintain accuracy regardless of speaker’s rate of speech (Taylor, 2017: 7.9)
    • Maintain accuracy regardless of the complexity of the English source message (Taylor, 2017: 7.10)
  • Composure
    • Remain composed while interpreting (Taylor, 2017: 8.1)

Time Required for Activity: 30-60 mins


Interpreters will:

  1. Correctly incorporate classifiers and depiction into their interpretation.
  2. Remain composed while interpreting complex and emotional content.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Instructions for Activity:

This activity includes the first video of one presentation divided into three parts. The presentation is an informative piece about the fears regarding school shootings and the resulting invention of bullet-proof backpacks and clothing. The speaker begins with a vignette of the shooting of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine shooting. She goes on to explain what bullet-proof backpacks are, their benefits and drawbacks, and then discusses some theoretical aspects behind them. The speaker includes many references to sources for her information.

In Part 1 of this presentation, the speaker explains what bullet-proof backpacks are. In Part 2, she discusses the benefits and drawbacks of bullet-proof backpacks, and finally, in Part 3, she puts forth some theoretical issues regarding school shootings and the demand for bullet-proof materials in schools.


Taylor, M. (2017) Interpretation Skills: English to American Sign Language. Edmonton:  Interpreting Consolidated.

Step One: Preparation

Prepare for this interpretation by visiting and exploring the following websites:

As indicated above, the speaker includes many references to sources for her information. These references are provided very quickly. How will you handle this highly specific information that is delivered at a high rate of speed? Think about various strategies you might need to use.

Step Two: Interpret into ASL

Interpret the Bullet-Proof Backpack, Part 1 video cold, without watching it first, and record your work.

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 yourself demonstrating the skills you are working on. You can do it!

Whenever possible, you are encouraged to interpret for a live person. When you work with real people, you are able to adjust your interpretation in real time based on cues you get from the person you are working with and do your best work. If you are not able to interpret for a live person, visualize a Deaf individual with whom you are comfortable. In your mind, your goal is to make sure that this person comprehends the story as easily as someone who uses the same language as the speaker.

Get Feedback:

Whether you were able to interpret for a live person or not, you are encouraged to ask for feedback form a Deaf person (friend or mentor). Either show your listener your recorded work or request feedback upon completion of the live interpretation.

Ask your listener to look for specific features, especially about the features you are working on for this interpretation, rather than just overall feedback. Some questions you can ask are:

  • Where in the interpretation did you feel confused?
  • Could you tell who was doing what?
  • Were there concepts or transitions that weren’t clear?
  • Was enough facial expression used?
  • Were fingerspelled words clear?
  • Were classifiers used correctly?

You can also ask comprehension questions specific to the interpretation, or ask your listener to summarize the information from the interpretation to find out if your message was clear. If you are asking a Deaf friend rather than a trained Deaf mentor, be sure to explain that this is a way to measure the  effectiveness of your interpretation, not an evaluating of their understanding.

Step 4: Assess Your Work

This step consists of several parts.

Assess your ASL:

  • First, view the recording of your interpretation. Do an initial assessment based on the following:
    • Are subjects and pronouns present in each sentence (Overtly stated or incorporated spatially into the verb, or in another way)?
    • Are classifiers included to the extent possible? Are they correctly produced and used?
    • Is space structured accurately and to the extent possible?
    • Is depiction used to convey action and conversation?
    • Are facial expressions used in conjunction with classifiers and depicted action to convey meaning?
    • Do facial expressions accurately convey the speaker’s tone and affect?
    • Was all information conveyed? If not, what impact do these omissions have on the message?
  • If you had difficulty understanding the source video, re-watch it as many times as you need to fully comprehend the content.

Step 5: Re-do Interpretation and Re-assess

Now that you have reviewed your work and received some feedback, try the interpretation again and incorporate as many of the desired features from the sample interpretation that you can. Don’t forget to record your work.

Finally, review your work one last time. Were you able to incorporate features that resulted in an improved version? If you can do it even better, try it again. Repeat until you are satisfied with your work.

Now try the next two videos from this presentation, Bullet-Proof Backpacks Part 2 and Bullet-Proof Backpacks Part 3.