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Sign-Language Interpreter Education and Demand Control Schema

by Shawn Flynn Illinois News Indiana News Minnesota News

Since publication of its theoretical underpinnings (Dean & Pollard, 2001), the demand-control schema (DC-S) for interpreting work has been the subject of numerous national and international interpreter training events and several interpreter training program (ITP) initiatives, including three grants from the Department of Education funding projects which infuse applications of DC-S into interpreter education. Hundreds of interpreters and interpreting students have received training in the DC-S approach, which has now evolved through applications in training and research to constitute a holistic "schema" of the interpreting profession. We purport that this comprehensive schema accurately frames interpreting as a practice profession and yields more effective approaches in interpreter education and research.

Effective interpreting practice involves talents and behaviors beyond those pertaining to source and target language skills per se. Effective interpreters in one situation may be ineffective interpreters in other situations, even when those situations do not differ greatly in the language factors involved. While source and target language education surely is important, the D-C schema purports that other factors in interpreting assignments (EIPI) also are important to know and understand (sometimes more so than language alone) before attempting to work as a communication facilitator in real-world settings. Our approach allows these more fundamental matters to be incorporated into an interpreter's skills repertoire early in their education and yields more effective work behavior when source and target language skills are overlaid on this foundation.

The DC-S approach recognizes all aspects of a "qualified" interpreter: (1) Promotes valuing and sharing a broader skill set; (2) Improves morale and reduces attrition from ITPs and the interpreting field; (3) Fosters improved self-monitoring of assignment choices, and; (4) Could improve interpreter testing and licensing methods. If you are interested in learning more about demand-control schema (DC-S) and how such training could benefit you as a sign-language interpreter, please contact Robyn Dean at the University of Rochester ( To learn more, please visit the Deaf Wellness Center at the University of Rochester.

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