Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies and Communication Equity


ASL & Interpreting

First Advisor

Erica Alley


ASL and Interpreting


This study investigates the work of educational interpreters working with D/deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students who are refugees or immigrants. This investigation occurs at the intersection of several fields of study: American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting, Deaf education, and immigrant and refugee education. Despite the overlap in these fields found in interpreters’ work with DHH refugee and immigrant students, to date no research has studied this work. This pilot study, conducted through four interviews of interpreters working in K-12 settings with DHH refugees and immigrants, explores the current practices of these interpreters in these settings. These practices are current practices and are not to be considered best practices. Interviews focus on the strategies interpreters use, as well as the decision-making processes behind these strategies. Results from this study suggest that interpreters use communication with the educational team, frequently outside of interpreting, with the goals of a) problem-solving and collaborating, b) following or making alterations to the IEP, and c) fostering student-teacher relationships. Interpreters also use communication strategies with DHH refugee and immigrant students during and outside of interpreting, including a) modifying the interpreter’s language use, b) taking on additional responsibilities, c) establishing and maintaining relationships with students, d) monitoring student comprehension, e) fostering students’ self-esteem, and f) encouraging communication with parents in order to foster DHH refugee and immigrant students’ linguistic, academic, social, and emotional growth. The interpreters in this study also communicate with DHH refugee and immigrant students’ peers and use interpreting strategies to facilitate interactions with DHH refugee and immigrant students and educators or peers. Interpreters use these strategies to foster the growth and success of DHH refugee and immigrant students in K-12 environments.

2018_MAISCE_FischbeckC_Thesis_Video.mp4 (53101 kB)