An African-American woman with long braids is wearing a short-sleeve blue shirt and sitting in front of a blue-grey background speaking in English for the video. The CATIE Center logo is in the lower right corner of the screenDeveloped by ASL Flurry 

Competencies Addressed:

  • message coherence
  • spatial structuring/discourse mapping
  • 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)
  • Use of Space
    • Use referencing accurately when the referent is not present (Taylor, 2017: 5.2)
    • Use accurate spatial agreement (Taylor, 2017: 5.4)
    • Restructure space accurately (Taylor, 2017: 5.5)
    • Use accurate non-manual signals when structuring space (Taylor, 2017: 5.6)
    • Use as much space as the interpretation requires (Taylor, 2017: 5.7)
  • Interpreting
    • Reflect speaker’s attitudes, preferences, and emotions (Taylor, 2017: 7.5)

Time Required for Activity: 45 mins


Interpreters will:

  1. Use classifiers and space correctly when describing referents.
  2. Accurately convey the tone and impact of the message.

Instructions for Activity:

In this video, Joy tells about her trip to see the bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas.  You will practice interpreting it from English to ASL two times using a resource to help you improve your second interpretation.


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

Click on the Step 1 toggle to start

Step One: Preparation

To learn more about this, search the internet for the bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge. Watch some videos if you can to help you visualize the event.

If you have access to the DVD “Pursuit of ASL: Interesting Facts Using Classifiers”, view story #3, “Bats: What do bats look like?”

Step Two: Interpret into ASL

Interpret the Congress Avenue Bridge 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:

  • Could you visualize the bridge and the bats?
  • Was enough facial expression used?
  • Were there parts that weren’t clear?

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:  View ASL Resource

View the parallel text that is provided. In the parallel text, look for the key features you are working on for this assignment (classifiers and use of space) to see how they are produced. Consider the following questions when watching the ASL version.

  • How is space used for referencing people, places and things? For geographic locations?
  • How is space used for referencing concepts?
  • How are non-manual markers used to portray affect or tone?
  • What examples of depiction do you see? How are non-manual markers used in these examples?
  • How are non-manual markers used grammatically?
  • How are sentences structured?
  • When is fingerspelling used, if at all?

Pay especially close attention to areas that you had any trouble with, as well as the features that are the focus of this activity: use of space and classifiers, as well as conveying the speaker’s affect and tone. What features would you like to incorporate into the re-do of your interpretation?

View Tom Riggs’ Description of the Bats of Congress Avenue Bridge

Step 6: 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.