Date of Award

Winter 12-1-2017

Exit Requirement


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies

Committee Chair

Amanda Smith

Committee Member

Dr. Elisa Maroney

Committee Member

Ellie Savidge


Research has shown that both women and Deaf people experience oppression, limiting their access to power and their workplace success, as well as coloring their experiences in the world (e,g,, Baxter, 2012; Eckert & Rowley, 2013; Hancock & Rubin; Ladd, 2005; Punch, 2016; Williams & Tiedens, 2015). There has been little research, however, examining how gender bias toward the interpreter impacts perception of the Deaf consumer. In a survey of hearing people who do not know sign language, participants described their perception of a male Deaf presenter and rated him in 10 soft skill categories. Responses from participants who listened to a female interpreter were compared with responses from participants who listened to a male interpreter. Some patterns emerged that may be substantiated by future research, but definitive evidence of gender bias was not present.

This survey did result in an unexpected finding that emerged from participants’ open-ended responses. Forty-four percent of participants were confused and/or distracted by the presenter’s use of American Sign Language or by the process of watching the presenter and listening to the interpreter. Furthermore, participants who indicated confusion or distraction in their open-ended comments gave the presenter lower-than-average ratings in the soft skill categories. A review of the literature and of current practice standards revealed that there is very little written on orientation to the interpreted interaction, wherein consumers are educated about what to expect during the interpreted interaction, how the interpreter will function, and how they can participate in ensuring that communication is accessible and inclusive.

Recommendations from this study include further research on the topics of gender bias and orientation to the interpreted interaction. Interpreters and consumers would also benefit from discussions within their Communities of Practice.