“Your American Sign Language interpreters are hurting our education”: toward a relational understanding of inclusive classroom pedagogy.

Autor/a: VALENTE, Joseph Michael
Año: 2016
Editorial: Transformations, Vol. 25, nº 2 (2016) pp. 20–36
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Comunidad y cultura sorda, Educación


A few years after I began working as a tenure-track assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University, I taught a graduate seminar on ethnographic methods that was popular with international students and those interested in cross-national research. One mid-October evening after class, a small group of students confronted me in the hallway: “Your American Sign Language interpreters are hurting our education.” Although I am deaf, this class was the first time I had American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters with me at my workplace, or in any place for that matter. I grew up speaking and reading lips, and as a newcomer to ASL, I set out with fantasies of becoming as eloquent in sign language as I am in spoken and written English. But the more I learned ASL and immersed myself in signing communities, the more I realized merely becoming conversant in ASL was going to be a challenging enough aspiration. I came to appreciate that learning ASL was going to be equally as laborious and as much of a struggle as it had been for me to learn English. I eventually learned that ASL is a complex visual-gestural language with linguistic processes functionally equivalent to English phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics (Valli et al.). And I quickly learned that my fantasies of becoming eloquent in ASL were just that—fantasies. As a latecomer to ASL using sign language interpreters for the first time at work, I also had to come to terms with the fact that I had the receptive language skills of maybe a ten-year-old signer and expressive language skills of about a five-year-old. Strangely in ASL conversations, back then as well as now, I was and still am able to more readily recall the handshapes and movements for signing “pedagogy” and “ethnography” rather than “bacon” or “onions.”