Skills Workshops For ASL Interpreters

Taught by Xenia Fretter, M.A., CI, CT, SC:L, Ed:K-12, NIC Master

These workshops vary in length based on the amount of time desired for hands-on practice and the event schedule. Fees are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Xenia Fretter holds a Master’s degree in Adult Education, the Certificate of Interpretation and the Certificate of Transliteration from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, as well as the Specialist Certificate: Legal (SC:L), NIC Master certificate, and Ed:K-12. Interpreting primarily in conference and legal settings, she is also the owner and director of TerpSavvy Online Interpreter Career Development.


Nouning Verbs? Parts of Speech for ASL Interpreters (all levels)

Non-native signers sometimes try to put round pegs into square holes when interpreting from English into ASL. You can be more confident that you are using ASL correctly by analyzing the roles and functions of signs we use in interpreting. This workshop gives interpreters an opportunity to straighten out how and when signs can function as verbs, nouns, adjectives, or other parts of speech, which will lead to better interpretations. Participants will be able to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of parts of speech in ASL
  • Provide several concrete examples of correct and incorrect usage for common problem signs
  • Distinguish between at least ten conceptually accurate and inaccurate nouns in ASL
  • List three strategies for challenging texts which contain many nouns

A Serene Approach to Fingerspelling Comprehension (beginning/interm.)

Interpreters typically have a healthy anxiety about voice interpreting. We don’t want to make the deaf person sound bad by misinterpreting what he or she says. However, this concern can sometimes develop into an unhealthy anxiety that prevents us from doing our best when voicing. Combine this with our tendency to freeze up when a deaf person spells a word, and an interpreter can lose all confidence in his or her voicing ability.

This workshop allows participants to approach fingerspelling comprehension from a serene place. We will discuss the psychology behind our hesitation to trust ourselves, and develop a sound approach to being confident when it comes to fingerspelling comprehension. Methods of improving fingerspelling comprehension will be visited and applied. At the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Describe their emotional response to missing fingerspelling and list ways to stay calm
  • List three methods for improving fingerspelling comprehension in the moment
  • List three methods for improving fingerspelling comprehension by practice
  • Describe how to “triage” for missed fingerspelling
  • Demonstrate improved confidence in their ability to comprehend fingerspelling

Deepening Your Processing: More Brain Work Makes Less Hand Work (beginning/interm.)

The surest way to a better interpretation is through complete processing. This workshop is an opportunity to break down the interpreting process and approach it with a sense of confidence and control. Participants will be able to:
  • Explain several models of processing
  • Demonstrate an understanding of consecutive interpreting
  • Declare a willingness to use lag time and trust their memory
  • Prioritize elements of the source message to avoid feeling overwhelmed
  • Be confident in the interpretation they choose and why they chose it

Interpreter Advocacy and Self-Care (all levels)

In our day-to-day busy lives, we rarely take the time to analyze the demands we face at work in a constructive way. Survival mode prevents us from being able to objectively consider all options for relief. This workshop is designed to give interpreters an opportunity to reflect on common stressors that we as interpreters have to manage.  It will give participants new models, ideas and approaches for self-advocacy and self-care, and a chance to find common ground and solutions with colleagues in a supportive environment. When they leave this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • List new resources and ideas for advocating for themselves and the populations they serve
  • Report new confidence and a level of satisfaction in their jobs
  • List action items to pursue that will improve their ability to handle the challenges of work and the daily life of an interpreter
  • Identify stress relievers that they will use more often
  • Describe the dynamics of vicarious trauma
  • Have a sense of forgiveness and compassion for themselves and their colleagues

Reducing Our Dependence on Initialized Signs (all levels)

Interpreters, particularly educational interpreters, often feel that they have to rely on initialized signs, which may or may not be native to ASL. Interpreters express uncertainty about the correctness of initialized signs, and sometimes wish they had alternatives to relying on them. This workshop is designed to provide interpreters with alternatives to initialized signs, both at the lexical level and the conceptual level. Participants will become more comfortable with the lexical choices they make after having analyzed the purposes certain signs can and cannot serve. This comfort and awareness will lead to a more native-like and more accurate ASL product. After this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Name three ways to expand their lexical options
  • Explain the purposes certain signs can and cannot serve
  • Identify their own strengths and weaknesses in sign vocabulary
  • Recall four reasons why interpreters depend on initialized signs
  • List alternatives to ten initialized signs

The Psychology of Voice Interpreting (all levels)

Most interpreters have a healthy anxiety about voice interpreting: we want to sound good, and we want to be accurate. But in some cases, this anxiety can hijack our work and cause a great deal of stress, sometimes leading to embarrassing errors. There are ways to improve one’s voice interpreting, particularly if the psychology behind it is understood. After this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the three most common psychological blocks to voicing
  • Identify their own strengths and weaknesses in voice interpreting
  • List four quick fixes to voicing problems
  • Name three ways to practice and prepare for voicing success

Interpreting Multi-Media Presentations: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (beginning/interm.)

Interpreters are often called upon to interpret presentations that include computers, videos, artwork, or hands-on demonstrations. Interpreting these types of presentations requires a great deal of awareness of when seeing a visual item takes precedence over having access to the simultaneous description.

Adapting to the fact that a deaf person must at every moment choose whether to look at the visual display or at the interpreter is crucial. Interpreters can cue their deaf consumers to the emphasis that a speaker puts on a given item and focus their interpreting at specific times, being “silent” at other times for the benefit of the deaf participants’ visual experience of what is being presented. Without making these adaptations, interpreters run the risk of causing their deaf audiences to miss the picture that is worth a thousand words. Participants will be able to:

  • Analyze the visual demands inherent in various types of visual presentations
  • Describe a deaf person’s experience of seeing a multimedia presentation interpreted
  • List approaches for maximizing the deaf viewer’s ability to absorb information from multimedia presentations

Precise Transliteration: What It Is; What It Isn’t (Intermediate to Advanced)

Many interpreters did not have the benefit of a formal education in how to transliterate. Perhaps you do transliterate on a regular basis but don’t feel entirely confident doing it. This workshop is designed to assist interpreters in making a bigger and clearer distinction between their interpreting and transliterating products. After participating in this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Identify new tools for your transliteration tool kit
  • Determine when it is most appropriate to transliterate
  • Create a clear list of work product goals to work on
  • Transliterate in a way that leads to more consumer satisfaction

Getting Started in the Freelance Market

Do you wonder how to get your foot in the door when it comes to employment? The days of interpreters easily landing work anywhere are over, and it’s time to get smart about your approach. This workshop will give you a wide variety of useful tips on how to start your career off right. After completing this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Name three dos and three don’ts for networking in the interpreting community
  • List five rules for a great resume
  • Outline the characteristics of a reputable agency
  • Identify the pros and cons of five employment options
  • List three strategies for standing out to potential employers/agencies