In this study, changes in the amount and type of student contact with the Deaf community outside of classroom hours were examined at three bachelor-level degree programs for American Sign Language (ASL)/English interpreting. Research was conducted in three phases: by survey, examination of program syllabi, and interviews. Institutional demographics from a sample comprising 40% of the 40 bachelor-level ASL/English interpreter programs in the United States were gathered by survey in the first phase. From that initial sample, a smaller sample of three institutions (7.5% of the total initial population of 40) was established for the next two phases of research. Requirements for both virtual and in-person contact with the Deaf community were documented in course syllabi from three programs for the academic years 2002/2003 – 2011/2012 and examined for evidence of change. Interviews with program faculty expanded on data found in syllabi. Findings show that requirements for students’ association with the Deaf community, in person, at Deaf events, have declined over a ten-year period. An increase in virtual modes of contact between programs and Deaf community, as well as an increasing use of technology in programs generally, was documented. Indications of fewer opportunities for in-person community contact and a change in approach by programs for facilitating community contact and opportunities to gain cultural competence for their students were identified. Findings are presented to encourage further research and to inform ASL/English interpreter educators seeking to promote cultural and communicative competence among their students.

Exit Requirement


Date of Award

Spring 6-6-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies

Committee Chair

Elisa Maroney

Committee Member

Amanda R. Smith

Committee Member

Joan Paluzzi


cultural competence, ASL, Deaf space, Deaf community, acculturation



Type (DCMI Terms)


Subject Categories

Special Education and Teaching

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