Sure, Assistant Professor of American Sign Language- English Interpreting (ASL-EI) Brian Cerney puts “ghost interpreters” to work in traditional courses.
But there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Cerney’s”ghost interpreters” are his ASL students, who attend a traditional class and take turns signing for one another. The practice is one of many employed by Cerney, who directs numerous elements in the discipline. Cerney works with fellow Keuka faculty to give ASL students real-life opportunities to “ghost interpret” traditional classes, such as those in psychology, English or other unrelated fields. With permission of the teaching instructor, a trio of ASL-EI students, for example, will rotate signing through the course lecture of a willing professor, switching every 15-18 minutes. The seated ASL students will check the interpreter’s message for accuracy.
Because no deaf student is dependent upon the interpretation, “ghost interpreting” becomes practice without risk, Cerney said. Added benefits for instructors and non-ASL students are that they can become comfortable with interpreters in the classroom.
“Dr. Cerney provides valuable first-hand opportunities that profoundly enrich students’ understanding of their chosen field– the epitome of experiential learning,” said Dr. Anne Weed, vice president for academic affairs.
Cerney initially hoped for five non-ASL faculty members to make a course and classroom available for ASL students to ghost interpret but received 20 volunteers, representing courses in organic chemistry, anatomy, English literature, and occupational therapy, among others. Students have also signed at special events and church services.
Ruthanne Hackman, assistant professor of social work, has welcomed student ghost interpreters to her Social Work Ethics and Diversity course. She said her own social work students get to experience what it might be like to attend a conference workshop with an ASL interpreter.
“In addition, in learning about diverse populations, we discuss reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and ethical issues regarding working with interpreters for people with language isolation or English as a second language. Students can directly pull from their experiences with the ASL student interpreters, then expand the conversation to compare and contrast to populations with other disabilities, culture, or language needs,” Hackman said. “I look forward to having [ghost interpreters] in my class this coming semester.”
According to Cerney, an ASL student is not allowed to practice interpreting in one of the courses he or she is registered for credit. Senior ASL students complete 36 hours of ghost interpreting, as well as 15 hours of “shadow” interpreting, when students follow the two primary campus interpreters who voice lectures for deaf instructors Sharon Staehle and Dorothy Wilkins or sign voiced meetings as interpretation for either instructor.
“It’s a restricted set of opportunities which is why it’s a smaller number of hours,” Cerney explained. As students observe the work of the professional interpreters, if and when it makes sense, they may be pulled into translation with the professional, he said.
According to Dr. Doug Richards, chair of Keuka’s humanities and fine arts division, the ghost interpreting provides ASL-EI students “invaluable practical experience in ‘live/real world’ signing, and as a side benefit exposes a wide range of Keuka students to ASL signing – a win-win.”
Cerney concluded: “The Keuka philosophy of learning by doing is alive and well in the interpreting program.”
Question: Where can a college student discover that nothing – even outside the classroom- is “off-topic?”
Answer: Keuka College, where learning outside of class can sometimes rival learning from a seat, where everything from icons of Buddhism, to towering wind turbines, to abolitionist history, to tattoo artistry, can invite questions and spark intense discussion among students with a passion for learning and exploration.
But it has not always been so.
Keuka used to have an honor society that began fading and died out in the early 2000s, “so the last decade, we’ve had few opportunities for the intellectually curious student,” said Mike McKenzie, associate professor of religion and philosophy.
Few, that is, until 2009, when then-sophomores Stephanie Lange, Aaron Golly and Kelsey Marquart dialogued with McKenzie about starting a group that could “find a way to learn outside the typical confined classroom setting,” Lange said.
They chose the name Tabula Rasa, which is Latin for “blank slate.”
“It’s the idea that we’re sort of born a sponge and we can fill up with knowledge,” said McKenzie, citing philosopher John Locke as the founder of the concept. “To expand someone’s mind, by definition, you have to get them outside their intellectual comfort zone.”
“A lot of the classes that you take are very cerebral, and you have to work through different problems. This is a step away,” explained junior Ross Gleason of Rockingham, Vt., who is helping lead Tabula Rasa this year with junior Sarah Marquart. “What do you want to learn? Ok, go do it. It’s always more interesting to go and experience something yourself. It allows you to get a broad view.”
Indeed, Tabula Rasa has covered a wide breadth of exploration. For example, the group hosted a former Mennonite, who spoke about her experience, and later, a Buddhist shared elements and icons of that faith. They visited a winery to learn the difference between traditional and organic wines, and stood underneath giant wind turbines at a wind “farm” in Cohocton. And, they explored historic roots of the Underground Railroad during a visit to Auburn’s Harriet Tubman home, William Seward House Museum, and Fort Hill Cemetery, where Tubman is buried. A two-night visit to a private observatory for stargazing was another outing last year.
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award.
Keuka junior Nicole Caparulo of Corning is combining her interests in special education and sign language this month by conducting a Field Period internship at a residential school for deaf children in Senegal, West Africa.
Caparulo is a unified childhood/special education major with a concentration in American Sign Language (ASL), and discovered the West African school through Martha French, associate professor of education. A friend of French’s, Dr. Angela Bednarczyk, worked 20 years at Galludet University’s Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, and now works as assistant to the educational director at the Renaissance School for the Deaf (L’Ecole Renaissance des Sourds) in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal.
According to Bednarczyk, the Renaissance School for the Deaf was founded in 2007 and follows the Senegalese national curriculum with instruction based on the use of the Francophone West African sign language. The school serves 35 students and has five classrooms, five teachers, and a deaf teacher in training. Each year, students attend whose ages range from 4 to 16.
Caparulo said she expects some elements of ASL will carry over to the sign language used in Senegal, but compared it more to a dialect.
“I am very interested in deaf education, special education, diversity and being open and accepting differences and ways to do things. That plays a major part in education, because you need to be able to do things and experience them,” said Caparulo.
“Special education teaching just stands out for me, along with sign language,” she added. “It’s such a beautiful language, how could I not be drawn to it? It’s always been a passion and now I have an opportunity to learn about it. I’m taking advantage of that. (more…)
While finishing up part of the set design for the Keuka College spring play last semester, Danica Zielinski broke her hand.
The then-freshman pushed ahead, however, eager to finish her set work and fulfill duties as assistant stage manager for Rabbit, Nina Raine’s dark comedy, staged at the Barn, Keuka’s theatrical performance space.
“I have arthritis and was doing splatter-painting when I heard a crack. But I kept going until I finished and went to the doctor after the set was done. It hurt, and sure enough, I was in a brace for about two months,” Zielinski recalled.
Perhaps that sacrifice made news that her set design won a merit award, from the Kennedy Center American College Theater (KCACT) Region II festival competition, all the more sweet.
“I was ecstatic,” said the Congers resident.
“She’d never designed a set before, which makes it remarkable she received that [award] on her first design,” professor of theatre Mark Wenderlich said, adding that Zielinski auditioned for an acting role as a first-semester freshman and he didn’t pick up on her design talents until he observed her drawing during rehearsals. (more…)
Induction into Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL), the national honor society for adult students, is a high honor.
Alpha Sigma Lambda recognizes the special achievements of adults who accomplish academic excellence while facing competing interests of home and work. It is dedicated to the advancement of scholarship and recognizes high scholastic achievement in an adult student’s career.
Igor Gorbaletov, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing through the Keuka College Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) , has earned a place in Chi Alpha Lambda, the Keuka College chapter of ASL.
But Aug. 11, when the induction was under way, Gorbaletov, a new honoree, wasn’t there. That’s because he was busy taping a segment for Friends and Neighbors, a Twin Tiers community talk show on local leadership, hosted by Henry Dormann, editor-in-chief of LEADERS magazine, which has featured regional, national and world leaders. Dormann’s show airs Saturdays at 9 a.m. on WETM-TV (Channel 18), the NBC affiliate in Elmira.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of stories saluting members of the Class of 2011. We asked division chairs for story ideas and they in turn contacted faculty members for suggestions. We believe they came up with some terrific profiles.
Beth Staehle has big plans after graduation – plans big enough to take her to other countries.
The Canandaigua resident loves American Sign Language (ASL) and can’t imagine her life without it. As the child of two deaf parents, she excels at ASL and can always rely on interpreting to supplement her income. However, after different majors – and colleges – she’s found a new love in political science and history, which is the degree she will receive May 29.
Now the Keuka senior is looking forward to a few months interpreting at the Rochester Institute of Technology to save some money to start what she calls her dream internship next spring – ideally at a museum in London, New York City or Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then Staehle hopes to move into graduate work in museum studies.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a 10-part series on the 2011 Experiential Learner of the Year Award nominees. Nominees for the upperclass and freshman awards will be honored at a luncheon May 6; the winners will be revealed at Honors Convocation May 7.
Given the impact her former grade-school teacher had on steering her toward a career in education, it may come as no surprise that Keuka freshman Colleen Young sought out that same teacher as a prospective supervisor for her first Field Period.
Indeed, fourth-grade teacher Deb Catalano of Northside Elementary School in Fairport was happy to welcome Young back to the classroom. This enabled the unified childhood education major, also a Fairport resident, to get a taste of life leading a classroom, not just sitting behind a desk.
According to Young, the hands-on experience helped her see how much work goes in behind the scenes to prepare for daily lessons.
Some of Alicia Wimmer’s favorite moments from her January Field Period at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia are of playing with small children inside their classrooms.
Of course, with occupational therapy, each kind of “play” has a purpose.
For one little boy, moving water between cups helped exercise and strengthen a deformed arm. Manipulating Play-Doh was a common activity for others. And pumping arms and legs on swings inside a therapy room was crucial to calm and focus other children so they would be able to concentrate on schoolwork in class.
But therapy holds a greater challenge when the child working with an occupational therapist is also deaf or hard-of-hearing and relies on ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate.